Arab Film Festival

Love and Loss: Stories from Iraq

Expired November 29, 2021 7:45 AM
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Through a mix of narrative, documentary and experimental shorts produced all around the world, we present seven stories chronicling the struggles faced by Iraqis over the past 50 years. From the Iraq-Iran War to Desert Storm to ISIS and the persecution of the Yazidi people, these films offer us windows into a world that many of us don't see.

This program includes the following films:

In the Shadow of Paradise (United States) dir. Sahar al-Sawaf & Thomas Helman

Mother is Back (Iraq) dir. Rami Al-Shatri

The Black Veil (Qatar) dir. A.J. Al-Thani

Aziz (United States) dir. Ramiel Petros

Grace (Australia) dir. Brian Patto

Safia (Iraq) dir. Ahmed Abd

Ido (Iraq) dir. Saman Mustefa

Shadow of Paradise is comprised of photographs and hand-painted 35mm film depicting my family who are alive, dead, or missing in Iraq. This film is dear to my heart as I come to terms with the country I grew up in being slowly eroded and redacted from history. Shadow of Paradise is a memento mori that captures my obscured, fading memories. Now, 30 years after Operation Desert Storm, this film is at once a snapshot of past, present and future destruction.

About the filmmakers:

Sahar al-Sawaf is an Iraqi filmmaker who was born in Saudi Arabia, grew up in Lebanon and Iraq, then escaped to California as a child, days before the Gulf War. Working in documentary and animation, she has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East with her sketchbook and camera in hand, chronicling the plight of refugees who have fled. Based in New York, she is presently directing her first animated feature film called Tigris.


Thomas Helman is a New York-based filmmaker, visual effects artist, sound designer and software developer who has exhibited internationally. His current work focuses primarily on the development of immersive 3D environments through non-traditional use of artificial intelligence software, (dis)embodiment, experimental image rendering, and spatial audio.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    7 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Sahar al-Sawaf, Thomas Helman
  • Screenwriter
    Sahar al-Sawaf, Thomas Helman
  • Producer
    Sahar al-Sawaf, Thomas Helman