Iraq‘s cinema industry is making a comeback after years of conflict, with the first Iraqi-made film in a quarter of a century playing in theatres.
Journey, which tells the story of an Iraqi woman struggling under conflict and sectarian violence, premiered in the capital, Baghdad, earlier this month.
The psychological drama, based loosely on real-life events, shows a young woman, Sara, who tries to blow herself up in Baghdad’s only train station in 2006.
The film made its international debut at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Mohammed al-Daraji, the film’s director and producer, told Al Jazeera that Journey gives a sober moral perspective on the war that has devastated the country, killing nearly a million people and creating a refugee and orphan crisis.
“We have the boycott, the sanctions and then after that the war, the occupation, sectarian violence and then we ended with Daesh (Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group – ISIL, also known as ISIS),” he said.
“But, we managed now as Iraqis to get back again. That is what we learn as Iraqis and we are coming to the point where we are going to challenge our limit and go further and further.
“This is the hope that we are looking for in Iraq.”
Iraqi cinema was once regarded as one of the best in the region. But after 15 years of violence, insecurity and sectarianism following the US invasion in 2003, the industry has suffered.
Baghdad has a thriving cinema scene, screening mostly Hollywood blockbusters and Egyptian films.
“Everyone dreams of watching an Iraqi-produced film because for a long time Iraqi cinema had no productions at all,” Safirah Naji, film critic, told Al Jazeera.
“We need to see a film, we don’t have film festivals, and we don’t have theatres that show Iraqi films.”