About the Event
This new initiative from Al Jazeera was designed to support the expansion of documentaries worldwide, including international co-productions, serving as a bridge between the filmmakers and key players from SEE, MENA, Caucuses regions and global markets.
This year’s selection showcased 32 projects from 21 countries. The projects addressed a wide range of topics, offering authentic storytelling and a promising cinematic approach portraying the reality.
On this occasion, our team was delighted to award a Sunny Side of the Doc Prize to Women in my Life, produced by KARADA Films and created by Zahraa Ghandour. The winning team will be invited to the 34th edition of Sunny Side of the Doc. Congratulations!
The winning project: Women in my Life
Produced by: KARADA Films (Iraq)
Author: Zahraa Ghandour
Synopsis: Zahraa (30) goes back 20 years to an incident that took place at her aunt Hayat’s (65) house in Baghdad, where her childhood friend Noor disappeared. She witnessed Noor being violently dragged out to the street and later found out that Noor was abandoned in front of a mosque and left to an unknown destiny. Zahraa embarks on a search journey to find Noor after two decades. Confronting her fears, secrets and the possible association of her aunt Hayat with the crime, the midwife who helped bring both girls into the world, she digs deep in Hayat’s house, hoping to strike a memory that leads her closer to Noor.
Hayat has turned her bedroom into a delivery room, where thousands of souls started their journey. Zahraa used to sleep in the next room. There she would hear women’s screams every day and night and learned that, after all of this, if a woman gave birth to a girl there would be no celebration, not like there would be if the baby was a boy. Celebrating not having a girl was a big thing for little Zahraa - she would have got a candy or a few dinars as a tip - until she found out that she also belongs to the „uncelebrated kind“.
Through the layered search, Zahraa must balance her trauma with reality in Iraq, where death and disappearance of women are happening daily. Along the journey, other women join her. Zahraa’s mother (64) appears as a voice-only through phone calls - they share a big love but never agree on things. Her mother always tries to prevent her from questioning the past and searching for Noor. Zahraa’s mentor Hanaa (74), a women’s rights activist, has over 40 years of experience in defending women’s rights and has witnessed how their situation withdraws throughout the years and wars. Hanaa lives with Faiza (35), a kidnapping survivor that became a good friend to Zahraa and took part in the journey.
Her heartbreaking story is another example of what women may face at the hands of their families and society. Together with the other women, Zahraa challenges reality by imagining a life free of fear for Iraqi women and raising questions like: How is it possible to find Noor in the middle of this chaos? How does one break out of this endless cycle of fear that everybody is stuck in?
© Women in my Life - KARADA Films
Why this project?
Jean-Jacques Peretti (Programming & Training Coordinator): "This project is a strong, personal investigation about the condition of women in Iraq through the gaze of the author and her personal story. The visuals are very cinematographic and the characters charismatic. This project will, without any doubt, become a great film with a strong international appeal. We'll be glad to welcome the team to the next edition of Sunny Side of the Doc".