TCAFF: Iraqi Voices Shorts


The Main 3 Sun, Nov 8, 2015 11:00 AM
Film Info
Program:Twin Cities Arab Film Festival
Hosted Events
Runtime:51 min
Type:Shorts Program
United Kingdom
United States


Post-film discussion with local filmmakers

Based in Minneapolis, the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP) facilitates artistic and cultural dialogue between Iraqis and Americans. IARP presents authentic Iraqi and American voices to counter negative stereotypes, build mutual understanding and respect, and provide a platform for dialogue. Iraqi Voices is an ongoing collaborative mentorship program that gives Iraqis in Minnesota support and training to transform their stories into high-quality documentary video shorts. The films in this program are written and directed by Iraqi-American participants and photographed and edited by Nathan Fisher. Produced by the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project and Northern Monday Films, this activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Film List

The Barbershop - 6 min
Directed by Zaid Alshammaa | Photographed and Edited by Nathan Fisher | Written by Zaid Alshammaa and Jamal Ali | Sound design by Tim Cooper | Translation by Kays Mejri, Luke Wilcox and Jamal Ali | Original score by Kids and Dreamers | Color grading by Crash+Sues

As he gets a haircut on a summer Sunday afternoon in suburban Minneapolis, a young Iraqi man recalls a traumatic experience from his childhood.

Zaid Alshammaa is from Baghdad. Interrupting his college education in Iraq, he fled to Minnesota in 2010. He currently works in a tobacco shop in Northeast Minneapolis.

That’s What We Hear on the News - 5 min
Written and directed by Jamal Ali | Photographed and edited by Nathan Fisher | Sound design by Tim Cooper | Original score by Kids and Dreamers

An Iraqi engineer compares being a student in Oklahoma in the late 1970s with being a refugee in Minnesota thirty years later.

Jamal Ali is from Baghdad. He graduated from Spartan College of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1979 and had a career as an aircraft maintenance engineer for Iraqi Airways. His wife, an anesthesiologist, and two children fled to Minneapolis in 2009.

The Iraqi Dream - 7 min
Directed by Amel Al-Sammarraie | Written by Amel Al-Sammarraie and Mohammed Raif | Photographed and edited by Nathan Fisher | Sound design by Tim Cooper | Original score by Kids and Dreamers

An Iraqi mother and father dream of reuniting their family in Minnesota.

Amel Al-Sammarraie, former deputy director of Baghdad’s Children’s Hospital, and Mohammed Raif, a civil engineer, are from Baghdad. Married in 1983, they have three children and one grandchild. They fled to the Twin Cities as refugees in 2013.

Travel Documents - 8 min
Directed by Mahmoud Ibrahim and Nathan Fisher | Written by Mahmoud Ibrahim | Photographed and edited by Nathan Fisher | Sound design by Tim Cooper | Produced by Adnan Shati | Additional photography by Chris Owen | Translation by Kays Mejri, Jamal Ali, and Sarah Kanan | Original Score by Kids and Dreamers | Color Grading by Crash+Sues

A Palestinian man living in Baghdad has to scramble when his family’s identity documents are stolen two weeks before their refugee visa interview at the US embassy.

Mahmoud Ibrahim is a Lebanese-born Palestinian refugee who spent most of his life in Iraq. Along with his wife and children, he fled to Minnesota in 2013. He currently works as a forklift operator in Blaine.

Torn Between - 3 min
Written and directed by Sarah Kanan | Photographed on an iPhone 5S by Tim Cooper | Edited by Nathan Fisher | Sound design by Tim Cooper

A young Iraqi-American woman reflects on a bivalent identity.

Sarah Kanan’s family fled Iraq in 1991. She grew up in Iran and then Minnesota, recently graduating from the University of Minnesota with a triple major in Business Management and Marketing, Design, and Child Psychology. Although Sarah has never lived in Iraq, she feels a strong passion and yearning for the culture and traditions. She currently works as a Business Analyst for General Electric.

The Fifty Generation - 7 min
Written and directed by Ali Alshammaa | Photographed and edited by Nathan Fisher | Sound design by Tim Cooper | Original Score by Kids and Dreamers | Color Grading by Crash+Sues

A man born in Iraq in the 1950s reflects on a life in exile.

Ali Alshammaa was born and raised in Iraq but left for Kuwait during the Iran-Iraq War. After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, he fled once again to Jordan. He moved back to Iraq after the 2003 US invasion, and lives in Minnesota today.

Screening with:

Gift of My Father
Director: Salam Salman
2014 | Iraq, UK, Netherlands, US | Arabic | 6 min | Minnesota Premiere

A seemingly normal car journey crosses from present reality into a recurring nightmare as Hamoudi, a young victim of war, relives his traumatic experiences during the Baghdad Blackwater shootings.

Salam Salman was born in Baghdad in 1977. He studied cinema at the College of Fine Arts, Baghdad University from 2002-2006. Salam began his film career working as first camera assistant on Oday Rasheed’s film ‘Quarantine’ (2009) In 2013, he worked as director of photography on two short films made as part of the Iraqi Independent Film Centers short film workshop.

Kingdom of Garbage
Director: Yasir Kareem
2014 | Iraq, UK, Netherlands, US | Arabic | 9 min

Zahraa, a refugee from Northern Iraq, dreams of going to school. Instead she and her brother, Hassan, must scour a landfill site for valuable materials, competing against the other scavengers. When a trade between Zahraa and the self proclaimed ‘King of Garbage’ goes wrong, the sibling’s relationship is tested to breaking point – can the two overcome Zahraa’s innocent mistake?

A Nation without a Homeland - 11 mins
Director: Warith Kwaish
2014 | Iraq, UK, Netherlands | Arabic | 11 min | Minnesota Premiere

Mohamed is a refugee from Syria living in Baghdad–a result of the crisis that began in 2010. He has no recollection of his family or life before Baghdad. In an attempt to reunite Mohamed with his family, Warith Kwaish embarks on a journey, searching the refugee camps along the Iraqi-Syrian border, desperately seeking Mohamed’s family.