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On October 9, 2012, IF hosted a screening of the film, “Interfaith Dialogue in Mesopotamia,” at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. The screening was held in cooperation with the Global Politics and Religion Initiative and the Middle East Studies Program of SAIS.

Dr. Leila Austin, Co-Director, Global Politics and Religion Initiative, SAIS provided opening comments and welcomed attendees to SAIS. Rend Al-Rahim, Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation provided an introduction of the Iraq Foundation (IF), the film and welcomed Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Mr. Posner discussed the importance of freedom of religion and religious diversity in Iraq and in the Middle East region. His Excellency,Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie commented on the history of religious coexistence in Iraq.

The screening aimed to capture Iraq’s thriving belief cultures and foster understanding among a U.S.-based audience of Iraq’s long history as a country where religious diversity has flourished. To achieve this goal, the event showcased a film, produced in cooperation with AlSumaria, based on documentaries produced by the participants of the Interfaith Cooperation Project (ICP), which aims to deepen public knowledge and promote dialogue about Iraq’s diverse religious heritage and to enhance religious freedom, interfaith cooperation, trust and mutual respect among faith communities. As part of this project, IF sponsored a nationwide documentary film competition and selected teams of young Iraqi men and women from different religious backgrounds and provinces who came together to produce 15 documentaries on significant historic religious sites across Iraq. The 5 best documentaries were edited and broadcast on national television. Documentaries cover historic shrines of all religions and a special emphasis on religious sites that are ‘shared’ by many different faiths and religious sites in close proximity, demonstrating how different faiths can live and worship side by side. Project participants held 63 discussion-based screenings of the documentaries in 15 provinces, reaching an audience of over 8,000 people. Documentaries were broadcasted on five national Iraqi TV stations. It is estimated that one in four Iraqis has seen at least one of the documentaries.

Selected photos of event:

Dr. Leila Austin, Co-Director of SAIS’ Global Politics and Religion Initiative, welcomed audience to SAIS.

Rend Al-Rahim, Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation, provided introductory comments.

Assistant Secretary of State, Michael Posner, discussed religious diversity in Iraq and the region.

His Excellency, Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie, Former Ambassador of Iraq to the United States discussed the film’s themes.

The screening aimed to capture Iraq’s thriving belief cultures and foster understanding of Iraq’s long history as a country where religious diversity has flourished.

From June 2011-August 2012, teams of young Iraqi men and women from different religious backgrounds and provinces came together to produce 15 documentaries on significant historic religious sites across Iraq. The documentaries, which were produced with the assistance and support of AlSumaria TV, seek to highlight the rich heritage of religious diversity that lives on in modern Iraq and build understanding among Iraq’s religious and ethnic communities. Documentaries cover historic shrines of all religions and a special emphasis on religious sites that are ‘shared’ by many different faiths and religious sites in close proximity, demonstrating how different faiths can live and worship side by side.

Project participants held 63 screenings of the documentaries in 15 provinces, reaching an audience of over 8,000 people. Documentaries were broadcasted on five national Iraqi TV stations including, Alsumaria, Al-Iraqiya, Al-Fayhaa, Biladi, and Al-Baghdadiya. It is estimated that one in four Iraqis has seen at least one of the documentaries. In October of 2012, IF will hold a screening of a film, produced in cooperation with AlSumaria, which is based on 15 documentaries produced by the project participants in Washington, DC. The screening will aim to capture Iraq’s thriving belief cultures and foster understanding among a U.S.-based audience of Iraq’s long history as a country where religious diversity has flourished. To read more about the event, view the invitation here.

According to the independent evaluation report, “the documentaries have undoubtedly contributed to the promotion of religious freedom and religious tolerance [in Iraq… through] adding information and knowledge regarding religious freedom and religious tolerance… and affecting attitudes and changing practices.”

Other key findings of the independent evaluation report are described below:

  •  Audiences that attended documentary screenings responded positively and indicated their willingness to promote religious tolerance and acceptance of religious diversity. This response indicates that the documentaries were not only necessary for Iraqi society but also that the audiences directly translated the messages of the documentaries into a willingness to promote the objectives of the project.
  •  Various sources have confirmed that there is great interest in interfaith cooperation in Iraq. The questionnaires filled out by audience members that attended the screenings demonstrated the interest of community members in improving interfaith cooperation in Iraq and in particular, in gaining a better understanding of Iraq’s religious diversity.
  •  The documentaries addressed the great religious heritage and historical civilization of Iraq and the coexistence of different religions within one society
  •  The documentaries also successfully highlighted examples of religious tolerance between various constituencies of Iraqi society throughout the past centuries. They stressed the uniqueness of each religion and the right of adherents to practice their rituals and ceremonies as well as the obligation of others to respect their traditions.
  •  Showing mosques, churches, shrines and temples in one documentary contributed greatly to encouraging a better dialogue between religions.
  •  Many Iraqis think that there are only two races, Arabs and Kurds, and only two religions, Islam and Christianity. In this context, the documentaries were extremely important in showcasing the diversity of races and religions existing in Iraq

Selected quotes from ICP youth participants also included in the independent evaluation report can be found below:

  •  “Thanks to ICP, I have dedicated many of my activities to restoring the ethnic and social cracks that have fractured Iraqi society. We must think of other activities that could lend themselves to similar objectives.” – Ahmad Shams, Maysan
  •  “The experience of creating the documentaries demonstrated to my team the positive impact of peaceful coexistence. We used to believe in coexistence but after this experience, we now know that peaceful coexistence is the only way forward for our country. What affected me the most was meeting with Muslim and Christian families, who expressed their belief in peaceful coexistence and the acceptance of others.” –Mohammed Hammoud Sultan, Salah el Din
  •  “ICP embraces a humanitarian and noble mission: to build an Iraqi society based on partnership and religious diversity. The ICP working groups worked actively to achieve this goal. Our documentary translates actual, existing models of peaceful coexistence in the Dhi Qar governorate.” –Mohammed Mohsen Al-Ibrahimi, Dhi Qar
  •  “I was lucky to establish many friendships with Iraqis from other religions. I also garnered valuable knowledge about different religions. Ultimately, we worked to achieve one goal: the promotion of the culture of diversity within our society. I hope that there will be many projects that aim to encourage acceptance of others inside the new Iraq” –Mustafa Akil Al-Khalidi, Al Diwaniya

In July 2012, IF implemented 7 documentary screenings of ICP-teams.  After each screening of these documentaries, an overview about the Iraq Foundation and its projects was presented. Descriptions of each screening can be found below.

Baghdad Team-3 presented 4 of these screenings to showcase their documentary, “Atter Al-Sama’a (Fragrance of the Sky)”. A total of 310 audiences attended the 4 screenings, and 201 of them answered the questionnaires.  Audience members included: university professors, students, engineers, journalists, artists, and civil society activists.  These screenings took place in Baghdad Province at the following locations: Authors Union’s Hall, the Hall of Assyrian National Movement, Al-Bayt Al Thakafi (The Culture House), and at the Hall of the Socialist Party.  These screenings were implemented on July 13, 18, and 28.

On July 7, Kirkuk Team implemented the 4th screening of their documentary, “Hatharatun Tarwyha Judran Samiytah (A civilization narrated by silent walls)”.  About 100 audience members attended, including college students, film-directors, theater experts, members from the Journalists Union, members of the Cultural House, actors, media persons, and community members. The screening was held at Nawrouz Hall in Kirkuk Province. 39 audience members answered the screening questionnaire.  A discussion on the film followed the screening.

On July 18, Baghdad Team-1 implemented a 5th screening of “Hamamaton Hatat Huna (A pigeon landed here)”. 150 audiences attended the screening, including: Mr. Liwa’a Samisem (The Tourism Minister), Mr. Kais Hussein Rasheed (Head of the Archeological Committee), employees, journalists, Contracts-Supervisor of IRD, authors, students, and civil society activists.
All audience members expressed their admiration for the documentary.  They expressed their appreciation towards the Iraq Foundation and the documentaries, which aim to reject sectarianism and spread peaceful coexistence among religions in Iraq. In an expression of gratitude, Mr. Rasheed (the Head of the Archeological Committeepresented a word of praise and thanks to the Iraq Foundation and to Ms. Rend Al-Rahim (The Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation).  As an expression of his gratitude, Mr. Rasheed presented a gift to Ms. Rend Al-Rahim, which is a plaque showing the famous Malwiya Minaret of Samara in addition to four books issued by The Archeological and Heritage Committee.  The Tourism Minister also presented a gift to the coordinator of Baghdad Team 1.

On July, 18, the Salah Al-Deen Team implemented a 4th screening of their documentary, “Afya’a Wtan (In the Country’s Shadow)”.  This screening was held in The Sports and Youth Directory in Salah Al-Deen Province, and was attended by more than 130 audience members, which included members from Salah Al-Deen Province, media experts, writers, and students.  130 audience members answered the screening questionnaire. Q&A Session followed the screening.  The screening was also well-covered by the media, specifically Al-Rasheed Satellite Channel and Salah Al-Deen Satellite Channel.

Selected Photos:

Baghdad Team-3 pictures of screenings:

Kirkuk Team-screenings:

Baghdad 1 Team-screenings:

Salah Al-Deen Team-screenings:

Selected Photos:


April 11, 2012: Salah Al-Deen team - 3rd screening of Afya’a Wtan (In the Country’s Shadow) documentary in the Hall of Tikrit University.


May 21, 2012: Dahouk team – 4th screening of Shajarat Al-Hayat (The Tree of Life) documentary in the Hall of Law School/ Dahouk University.


May 21, 2012: Ninava team-4th screening of Naynawa Mawtin Al-Adyan (Ninava Home of Religions) documentary in the Hall of the Turkuman Brotherhood Hall/ Rasheediya area in Mosul.

June 1, 2012:  Basra team-4th screening of Al-Iraq Ard Al-Had’arat Wa Mnuba’a Al-Dyan Al-Samawya (Iraq the land of civilizations and the source of religions in the hall of the Labor Union-Basra branch.


June 10, 2012: Baghdad team no. 1-4th screening of Hamamaton Hatat Huna (A pigeon landed here) in the hall of the Writer’s Union in Baghdad.


June, 19, 2012:  Babil team-4th screening of Multka Al-Adyan (Where all Religions Meet) in the hall of the Cultural House in Babil. 

June, 21, 2012: Diwaniya team-4th screening of Ma’an (Together) in the hall of Diwaniya Provincial Council.


June 21, 2012: Ninava team-5th screening of Naynawa Mawtin Al-Adyan (Ninava Home of Religions) documentary in Sarjoun Hall-Ninava International Hotel in Mosul.


June, 23, 2012: Diwaniya team-4th screening of Ma’an (Together) in the Happiness Entertainment City Park in Diwaniya.


June 23, 2012: Maysan team-4th screening of Multka Anhar Alsma’a (Where the Sky Rivers Meet) in the hall of Jawhart Maysan Coffee Shop in Maysan.

 

This month, IF worked to assist qualified ICP participants to participate in international film festivals as film producers. The ICP Mosul team was accepted as participants at the Malmo Film Festival, to be held in June. This month, ICP teams continued using the ICP Facebook Page to exchange comments and suggestions.

IF has also worked to screen winning documentary films at a number of art institutes and universities around Iraq. Descriptions of the screenings can be found below:

On April 11, IF screened “In the Country’s Shadow” produced by Al-Salahidin Team, at The University of Tikrit. The audience totaled 80 people, including the Dean of the College of the Arts, scientific associates, administrative assistants, faculty, students, civil society organizations, university professors, media professionals, and clergymen. A discussion took place about the concept of peaceful co-existence between different religious sects, and about the showcasing of different Christian and Muslim monuments in the film. Further discussion occurred about the importance of ethnic and religious diversity, and the film’s technical aspects (camera angles, soundtrack, etc). A questionnaire was distributed to audience members following the screening and discussions.

On April 29, IF screened one of the five winning documentaries,Hamamaton Hatat Huna (A pigeon landed here) by Baghdad Team 1 at the Institute of Fine Arts for boys in Baghdad. A total of 50 individuals attended the screening, including teachers and students.

Following the screening, questionnaires were distributed to the audience to gauge their responses to the documentary. Many viewers indicated a positive opinion of the mission of the documentaries as supportive of and contributing to “spreading religious and cultural awareness in Iraq. Other viewers thanked the Iraq Foundation for creating these documentaries: “We cherish the effort of the ICP teams, sponsored by Iraq Foundation and believe that these documentaries are beneficial and serve to showcase different perspectives, highlight the diversity inherent in Iraq and spread the principle of tolerance.”

On April 10, the Salah Al-Deen team held the 3rd screening of their documentary in their local community.

Selected Photos:

“In the Country’s Shadow”screening at the University of Tikrit

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“In the Country’s Shadow”screening at the University of Tikrit

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“A pigeon landed here” screening at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad

IF staff member provides a briefing on the ICP project at the “A pigeon landed here” screening at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad

IF staff member distributes survey at the “A pigeon landed here” screening at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad

Scene from “A pigeon landed here” screening at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad 

ICP-Facebook page users exchange comments and IF staff post updates and information on upcoming film festivals

This month, IF successfully broadcasted the five winning documentaries in collaboration with Al-Sumaria, an Iraqi satellite TV station. These documentaries were created as part of IF’s Interfaith Cooperation Project (ICP).  Winning films included:The Tigris River’s Agate (Akik Dijla) by Baghdad Team 2, Where Religions Meet (Multka Al-Adyan) by the Babil Team, A civilization Narrated by Silent Walls (Hadara Tarweeha Judran Samita) by the Kirkuk Team, A pigeonlanded here (Hammonton Hatat Huna) by Baghdad Team 1, and Let’s Live Together (Lan’aeesh Ma’an) by the Diyala Team. AlSumaria edited and broadcast these documentaries as a pro-bono contribution to IF’s work!

Also this month, IF created a Facebook page to showcase ICP videos. IF asked all 15 teams to invite civic organizations, family and friends to visit the page, view the documentary films and comment on them.

IF also assisted youth in holding screenings for community members in Baghdad, Thi Qar and Al-Muthanna provinces in the month of March. A Q&A session followed each screening, during which ICP teams responded to questions and comments offered by community members about the screened documentaries, giving them the unique experience of sharing their work with community members.

For more information, please visit the ICP facebook group and the ICP Documentary Film page!

Selected Photos:

In Thi Qar, the filmmaking team held the third screening for their documentary, “The Moment of Unity,” on March 1, 2012.

This month, IF continued to hold screenings of student documentaries in the provinces including, Diyala, Basra, Dohouk, Maysan, Baghdad, Erbil, and Muthanna. Diverse audiences, including members of local communities, including Parliamentary members, former ministers, civic leaders, media representatives, film experts, academcs, students and representatives of international organizations, attended the screenings and participated in discussions.

After the screening, the filmmaking team talked about their experiences researching and documenting the sites. Participants were given the opportunity to offer feedback in question & answer sessions, which sparked interesting discussions on the provinces’ interfaith traditions and religious heritage. Participants praised the value and the benefits of this creative initiative.

Alsumaria TVstation completed editing the five winning teams’ documentaries into a five-part series.

IF continued helping project beneficiaries to compete in international film festivals.

For more information, please visit the ICP facebook group!

Selected Photos:

In Babil, the filmmaking team held the third screening for their documentary, “Where Religions Meet,” on February 12, 2012.

In Dohouk, the filmmaking team held the third screening for their documentary, “The Tree of Life,” on February 9, 2012.

From December 17-19, IF organized screenings with an audience drawn from students from local universities from the Babil, Kirkuk, Diyala and Baghdad governorates. IF invited members of the participating teams to take part in the broadcast sessions. These Q&A sessions will be integrated in the hour-long TV program that will be broadcast on Alsumaria. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting TV program expolring Iraqi’s heritage, celebrating the multiplicity of unique backgrounds that create the modern Iraq.

ICP teams continued screening their documentaries during this period throughout Iraq’s provinces. The screenings highlight the ancient Assyrian heritage of many Iraqi minorities.

After the film screening, the filmmaking team discussed their experiences researching and documenting the sites as well as their cooperative efforts.

In addition, IF is currently helping finalist documentary producers enter international film festivals.

For more information, please visit the ICP facebook group!

Selected Photos:

Q&A Sessions:

Q & A Sessions – ICP in December 2011

 

ICP screenings:

On November 24, IF held a networking gathering in Baghdad for all the student teams that have participated in the ICP project. The networking gathering preceded a screening of one of the project documentaries. The gathering enabled young team members who share the same vision to come together and discuss the challenges they faced producing the films, working with other Iraqis from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, and their experiences screening the films in their local communities. The project beneficiaries were also provided with the opportunity to plan for future action and combine efforts to promote interfaith cooperation.

For more information, please visit the ICP facebook group!

Selected Photos:

http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/310399_2613468252726_1135633552_3055260_283990669_n.jpg

http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/318506_2613471772814_1135633552_3055263_391841615_n.jpg

http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/s320x320/386316_189394317813874_100002299219944_419563_920295800_n.jpg

IF is delighted to announce that Alsumaria television began editing the five winning teams’ documentaries into a five-part series during the month of November.

The Five winners:

  1. Baghdad team 1: A pigeon landed here.
  2. Baghdad team 2: The Tigris river’s agate
  3. Babil team: Where religions meet
  4. Kirkuk team: A civilization narrated by silent walls
  5. Diyala team: Let’s live together.

In addition, Alsumaria is assisting the ICP participants to submit their films to international film festivals.

For more information about the lastest activities of the ICP participants, please visit the ICP facebook group!

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