Sahim Omar Kalifa’s critically acclaimed short film Baghdad Messi continues to bring in the awards, its most recent win being at the Beauvais Film Fest in France. The film was voted winner of the shorts competition by the audience in Beauvais, and has now scored 30 international awards and four honourable mentions since its world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2013.

Baghdad MessiThe Beauvais Film Fest celebrated its 24th edition this year, with a focus on Nordic Cinema and with special programmes honouring Danish directors Lars von Trier and Bille August, who presented Night Train to Lisbon together with Jeremy Irons. The festival also screened the Millennium-trilogy, introduced by lead actor Michael Nyqvist.

Baghdad Messi, meanwhile, continues to have a strong presence on the international festival circuit: in the next couple of months, the film will screen at the Grenzland Filmtage in Germany, the KingBonn New Media Festival in China, the Leiden International Short Film Experience in the Netherlands and the Newport Beach Film Festival in California, USA. The success of Baghdad Messi equals the accomplishments of Land of the Heroes, Kalifa’s previous short, which garnered over 100 selections and more than 20 awards, including the Generation Kplus Jury Award in Berlin in 2011.

In Baghdad Messi, Kalifa tells the story of Hamoudi, a young Iraqi boy who is wild about football and worships star player Lionel Messi. Together with the other children of the village, he eagerly awaits the clash between FC Barcelona and Manchester United. But then the family’s TV set breaks down. Afraid of being shunned by his friends, Hamoudi urges his father to make a dangerous trip and get the TV fixed in Baghdad.

Kalifa teamed up with Kobe Van Steenberghe to write the script; the latter also produced Baghdad Messi together with Hendrik Verthé of a team productions (Image). The film received support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund/Film Fund of Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Joke Schauvliege.

Published on Wednesday 23 April 2014