Kurdish Iraqi director Hassan Ali Mahmoud participated in Beirut's Film Festival, which ended October 13th, with his movie "Hay El-Fazzaat". The film previously won an award as the second best feature film at the Gulf Film Festival.
The story sheds the light on dictatorships through a touching story and expressive photography.
Mawtani met with Mahmoud after the film was shown at the festival.
Mawtani: How did you come up with the plot of the movie?
Hassan Ali Mahmoud: The plot of the movie "Hay El-Fazzaat" was adapted from a novel by Sherzad Hassan in the late eighties, specifically after the Iran-Iraq war. He wrote it after seeing thousands of dead bodies on the borders being eaten by the crows. My movie, for which the script was written by Sherzad, begins with a scene showing an Iraqi recruit killing his friend after accusing him of treason. He leaves his dead body for the crows to devour.
Mawtani: What does your movie symbolize?
Mahmoud: "Hay El-Fazzaat" is a symbolic story that represents all the dictatorships in the world, especially in our Arab region. It bears a symbolic reading into the latest events in our region, and the rise of the people asking for their freedom.
The film tells the story of a flock of crows that attacks the agricultural land of a rich feudal man. In order to keep them away from his land, after he had planted it with rice, he sets up a large number of scarecrows made of cloth. However, the crows continue to hover over his land. At that time, the feudal man begins to use the village children as live scarecrows to keep the crows away from his field and to protect his crop without any consideration of the price his village and its children were paying.
Mawtani: Who plays the main characters of the movie?
Mahmoud: They are played by a group of actors led by Walid Maarouf Jaru, Abdullah Shawkat, Sulaf Kared and Taha Aghajan.
Mawtani: What were you trying to say through the children?
Mahmoud: They are the victims who will turn into future soldiers, and later on become the victims of dictatorship.
Mawtani: What were you trying to say about dictatorship?
Mahmoud: I wanted to say that wherever there is dictatorship in the world, people turn into scarecrows. More importantly, I wanted to deliver a message that says that one day these scarecrows will rise to ask for their rights, even though they are only scarecrows. We have already witnessed things in this regard as we recently saw in Arab countries the form of protests, revolutions, and government and presidential change. I believe that the scenes in my movie have shown all of that.
Mawtani: It seems as if you predicted all of these events considering that you made your movie in 2010.
Mahmoud: This is true. I finished filming it before the Arab revolutions began. When I showed it in Cairo one month before the revolution in Egypt, the newspapers wrote that "Hay El-Fazzaat" represents the condition of the Arab people in the region.
Mawtani: Do you think it is necessary for Iraqi cinema to move away from war to brighter subjects?
Mahmoud: We all wish that the Iraqi society will come out of this psychological crisis that has impacted it for many years of war. However, you cannot get rid of the psychological pressures of 40 years in a few days or years. We need more time so that we can caution the coming generation about such issues. As filmmakers, we have a very big responsibility to caution politicians and society so that dictatorship is never repeated again in Iraq.