The First Movie

The First Movie
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True Stories
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The First Movie
United Kingdom, 2009, 76 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: Canada / Iraq
Topics: Art/Architecture/Film, Coming of Age, Documentary, Middle East
Program: True Stories
Language: English, Kurdish, Farsi English Sub-Titles


Through the media Iraq has become indelibly linked to war imagery, but Mark Cousin’s lyrical journey into the hearts and minds of the children of a small Kurdish village in Northern Iraq, affirms how a child’s imagination can transcend adversity and celebrate family, love and pride in community. Cousins and his security guards transform the village of Gotapa, bombed in 1988 by Saddam Hussein, into a cinema. They sew together bed sheets onto which they will project five classic family films to villagers seated on a hodgepodge collection of old carpets under the stars. As the sun descends, villagers come from far and wide to see their first movie.

In addition to capturing the reassuring rhythm of daily life and the majestic beauty of the land, Cousins creates low-tech surreal and dreamlike moments with the village kids that utterly delight. But the real magic here is revealed in the films the children make with the flip cameras he distributes. Herein their life force bursts through the frame. And seeing Iraq through the eyes of a child is like seeing it for the first time.

DIRECTOR: Mark Cousins
Producer: Gill Parry, Trish Dolman
Editor: Timotheus Langer
Screenwriter: Mark Cousins
Cinematographer: Mark Cousins
Music: Melissa Hui
Principal Cast: Narrator: Mark Cousins
Filmography: The New Ten Commandments (Segment) (2008)
Print Source: Screen Siren -

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