Sahim Omar Kalifa’s short film Baghdad Messi has been invited to Berlin’s Interfilm Short Film Festival (12-17 November) making it the picture’s 50th invitation. Baghdad Messi is to screen in the section ‘Confrontations: Movies with a conscience’. The short has also been nominated for Best Photography at the Grand OFF-World Independent Film Awards in Warsaw.
This won't be director Sahim Omar Kalifa's first trip to Berlin – he was there in 2011 when his previous short film, Land of the Heroes, was selected for the Berlinale. After winning the Generation Jury Award there, the film travelled the world, visiting over 140 film festivals. With 50 selections on its slate so far, Baghdad Messi is well on its way to follow its predecessor’s footsteps.
Baghdad Messi takes its viewers back to 2009 for the story of 10-year-old Hamoudi. The Iraqi boy and his friends are totally obsessed with football. Just like the rest of the world, they are looking forward to the Champions League final, the long awaited clash between FC Barcelona and Manchester United. But then all of a sudden Hamoudi’s television set breaks down and the boy must find another way of seeing the match.
Kalifa has already gained international plaudits for the short, including receiving the award for Best Short at the Gulf Film Festival in Dubai, the Grand Prize for Best Short at the Brescello International Film Festival and Best Direction in Kalar, Iraq. New York’s respected fest Urbanworld also presented the film with a Special Mention last week, while it’s in the running for Best Photography (Robrecht Heyvaert, Kobe Van steenberghe) at the Grand OFF, Poland’s fest focusing on independent filmmakers.
Baghdad Messi and Land of the Heroes were produced by Hendrik Verthé and Kobe Van Steenberghe of a team productions, the latter being created with the support of a VAF Wildcard. Baghdad Messi received funding from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund/Film Fund of Flemish Cultural Affairs Joke Schauvliege.