Launch of 3x3 Film Festival – Baghdad, Iraq

Colours. Missing. Cinderella.
Three simple, independent words; three powerful film titles which were screened in Baghdad on Sunday, 3 March 2019 at Arts City at the launch of the 3x3 short film festival.

The 500+ audience included renowned film directors, musicians, actors, artists, youth activists, government officials, and representatives from the United Nations, the diplomatic corps and civil society, one truly felt like one was at a gala premier Oscar event. The atmosphere was one filled with excitement, glitz, curiosity, and anticipation in viewing a selection of over a dozen short films.

The screening of select films launched the three-day 3x3 film festival hosted by the Baghdad Foundation of Cinema and Arts, in partnership with the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). With submissions of over 840 films globally, 30 of which generated from Iraq, 24 films were specifically relevant to minorities and human rights issues in Iraq. The human rights films were made by Iraqis in Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk, Missan, Mosul, and Najaf, specifically for this year’s 3x3 Film Festival. Each of the human rights films had a female writer, director or lead character.

In her opening remarks, Danielle Bell, Chief of the UNAMI Human Rights Office noted that “these 3x3 films highlight contemporary challenges faced by minorities in Iraq and wider human rights issues, including disappearances, discrimination, violence against women, child abuse and poverty, and show the impact of the horrors inflicted by ISIL. They are not just stories. The films depict the reality of so many Iraqis”.

Ms. Bell added, “these films portray loss and human suffering but also the resilience, beauty, and strength of Iraqis; they convey powerful messages of great importance to Iraq as it transitions from conflict to peace. “ In this vein, Dr. Hikmat Al-Baydani, Head of 3 minutes in 3 days Film Festival, poignantly noted that "Real stories are more powerful than imaginary ones, and this is powerfully illustrated in this year’s 3x3 short film festival”.

The productions showcased in the 3x3 Film Festival conveyed messages concerning the importance of the right to culture and freedom of expression exercised in Iraq. With female and male directors, producers and actors, the films demonstrated the passion by women, men and children in the film industry who are all telling compelling stories that would touch the hearts and minds of all Iraqis and highlight critical issues for minorities in particular and human rights issues in general.

With a public viewing planned for Sunday, 10 March 2019 at the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), the films will also be screened country-wide in the coming weeks, to encourage dialogue and provoke action by the government, communities, and individuals to strengthen the protection of human rights in Iraqi society.

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