|Amanda Palmer and Mohamed Al-Daradji|
Mohamed Al-Daradji's debut feature Ahlaam is only the second film to come out of Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime and has since been hailed as a triumph at festivals.
Having fled Iraq for Holland in 1995, Al-Daradji returned to Baghdad following the fall of the Ba'ath party to witness the aftermath. The film that emerges is a soulful portrait of a city haunted by war, as three psychiatric patients are admitted to a Baghdad hospital in the midst of bombing and chaos.
However it is not just Al-Daradji's story which has earned him critical acclaim. Writer, director, producer and cinematographer, the Baghdad born filmmaker demonstrated extraordinary strength and determination by refusing to let living in a war zone interfere with his work. Despite gaining permission to film from the coalition and being escorted by an Iraqi police guard, the unpaid crew were kidnapped on more than one occasion, and Al-Daradji himself had to carry a machine gun throughout the filming.
Mohammed Al-Daradji joins Amanda Palmer at the Everyman Cinema Club for our Q&A, where he talks about the circumstances which threatened but never stopped his extraordinary film from being made.
Shut up & Sing
Backstage at the Grammys Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines had "her first cry in three years" as the Chicks swept the board, winning in all five categories for which they were nominated. The comeback signalled a victory not only for their music but for freedom of speech – in 2003 the world's best selling female band had been sent into musical exile for stating they were "ashamed Bush is from Texas".
Death threats followed, right-wing radio stations boycotted their songs, and trucks publicly crushed crates of their CDs. But a new documentary Shut up & Sing
will now expose their three year ordeal. Co-directed by Cecilia Peck, documentary-maker and daughter of activist actor Gregory Peck, the film charts the career nose-dive of the Texan trio who stood up and spoke out.
Amanda Palmer catches up with Cecilia in London to talk about politics, cinema and how her father's legacy has influenced her own career.
Bollywood Acting Schools
|Training for Bollywood|
In India, movies are without a doubt a national obsession, with the world's largest film industry, Bollywood, churning out over 1000 films a year to an estimated audience of three billion.
So it's little surprise that the one annual talent contest to find fresh Bollywood blood sets pulses racing amongst wannabe stars. But in front of the Bollywood lens, how you look is equally important to how you perform. Journalist Sapna Bhatia looks at the growing industry of acting schools and the grooming classes that promise to make Bollywood dreams come true.The Host
Premiering at last years Cannes film festival, South Korean monster flick The Host
has become an all time box office smash back home, with 13 million of the country's 48 million inhabitants having seen it.
Bringing equal doses of parody and homage to the Korean monster genre, The Host
is not one for the faint hearted, as a mammoth amphibian spawned from pollution caused by the US military, begins to terrorise its nearby town.
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