Screening & Discussion: OPEN SHUTTERS IRAQ: An Evening With Filmmaker Maysoon Pachachi

Wed, October 21, 2009 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Our Feelings Took The Pictures: OPEN SHUTTERS IRAQ
A documentary film by Maysoon Pachachi (102 minutes)

Followed by a Discussion with the Director
Wednesday, October 21, 7 PM
Free and Open to the Public

OPEN SHUTTERS IRAQ film documents a remarkable photography project. A group of women, from five cities in Iraq, live and work together in a traditional courtyard house in the Old City of the Syrian capital, Damascus. There they learn to take photographs, and at the same time, present their ‘life maps’ to each other: large charts full of family photos, scrawled poetry and quotations, the names of emotions and crisscrossing green, red and black marker lines, detailing all the ups and downs, forwards and reverses of their lives. With grief, humour, and defiance, the women unearth memories and tell stories that have been buried for 30 years in the course of just trying to survive devastating wars, dictatorship and sanctions. In the end, they have woven together the threads of their individual lives into a collective fabric. This project experience is not merely creative. It is transformative, too; the act of remembering and listening is dynamic and productive.

The women return to Iraq and shoot hundreds of photographs, each imbued with the sharp emotional truth of lived experience. As one woman says, “It is our feelings taking the pictures, not us.” In Iraq a sense of hope is not easy to sustain, but this intimate, moving film is ultimately hopeful. It shows how people, traumatized and silenced by the ‘un-making’ of their world, can sometimes re-assert a sense of existence with an act of creative articulation.

A book of the OPEN SHUTTERS IRAQ project will be published in autumn 2009 by Trolley Press in the UK and the work is being is being exhibited internationally .

Maysoon Pachachi is a London-based filmmaker who studied philosophy at University College London and subsequently graduated from the London Film School. She worked for many years as a film editor, and since 1994, as a documentary director. Ms. Pachachi has taught film in Britain and Palestine (in Jerusalem, Gaza and at Birzeit University), and is a founding member of ACT TOGETHER: Women’s Action for Iraq ( In 2004, she co-founded INDEPENDENT FILM & TELEVISION COLLEGE, a tuition-free film-training school in Baghdad ( Maysoon Pachachi's film RETURN TO THE LAND OF WONDERS (2004), which was made on her first trip back to Baghdad in more than 35 years, chronicled her family history and events subsequent to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Last updated: 2009-10-08 04:01:16

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