Director Sahim Omar Kalifa keeps adding new trophies to the awards count for his critically acclaimed short Baghdad Messi. Last week, the film collected another five, bringing the total of prizes so far to 38 international awards and four special mentions.

Sahim Omar KalifaWith the film’s 40th award within reach, Baghdad Messi has already far outnumbered Kalifa’s previous short, 2011 festival hit Land of the Heroes , which premiered at the Berlinale where it took home the Generation Kplus Jury Award; that was followed by another 23 awards worldwide.

The most recent awards spree for Baghdad Messi began in April in France, where the film notched up its 30th prize at the Beauvais Film Fest. Shortly after that, it won the Grand Prize and the Youth Jury Prize for Best Film at the Cellu L’Art Short Film Festival in Germany, as well as the award for Best Short at the International Short Film Experience in Leiden, in the Netherlands.

Last week, the film won two awards at the Pielagos en Corto Festival in Spain, where the director was presented with the Costa Quebrada Award for Best Script, as well as the Dunas de Liencres Award for Best Short Film. Then, in Morocco, the film added to its tally by winning the Audience Award at the Souss Short Film Festival in Agadir, and the prize for Best Short at the Bassamat Shortfilm Festival in Rabat. Nor did Kalifa leave China empty-handed; the Flemish filmmaker (who has Kurdish roots) won the Best Fiction Award at the China KingBonn New Media Festival, one of the largest short film festivals in the word to which Kalifa is no stranger, having won the main prize there in 2011 with his previous short, Land of the Heroes.

Another batch of festival screenings are on their way for Baghdad Messi. Over the next couple of months, Kalifa’s story about a young Iraqi football lover will screen at the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa, the Slovak Art Film Festival, the CINEfoot Film Festival in Brazil and The Palace International Short Film Festival in Bulgaria. Kalifa will also be busy with an invitation to coach young directors during workshops at the Nordic Young Short Film Festival in June. He is currently also working on his first feature film project, Zagros, to be produced by A Private View (Marry Me, Oxygen, Moscow, Belgium).

Kalifa scripted Baghdad Messi with Kobe Van Steenberghe, with the latter also producing the film alongside Hendrik Verthé of a team productions (What About Eric?, Image, The Circle). Baghdad Messi received support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund/Film Fund of Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Joke Schauvliege.

Published on Tuesday 20 May 2014