Baghdad Messi, the short film by Kurdish-Flemish director Sahim Omar Kalifa, has won the prize for Best Short Film at the Irvine International Film Festival in the US. This award marks the 50th international acknowledgment for Baghdad Messi since the film started its awards career in 2013.

Baghdad MessiFor Baghdad Messi, Sahim Omar Kalifa returned to his native Iraqi Kurdistan (where he also filmed his previous short, Land of the Heroes) to tell the story of 10-year-old Hamoudi, who is obsessed with football and worships Lionel Messi, as do all his friends. But on the eve of the long-awaited Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United, Hamoudi’s television set breaks down. Afraid of being shunned by his mates, the boy urges his father to make the dangerous trip to Baghdad to have the TV repaired.

Ali Raad Al-Zaydawi plays Hamoudi; Kobe Van Steenberghe and Robrecht Heyvaert shot the film; Pieter Jan Bergmans did the editing; and Hannes De Maeyer composed the score.

Since its premiere at the 2013 Gulf Film Festival in Dubai, Baghdad Messi has played at over 140 festivals worldwide, winning prizes in the United Arab Emirates, China, Iran, Iraq, Sweden, France, Poland, Egypt, Italy, Germany, Armenia… With the addition of the Irvine prize to the list, the film’s list of international honours now totals 50.

Hendrik Verthé and Kobe Van Steenberghe produced Baghdad Messi for a team productions, the production company behind Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah’s feature debut, Image. Baghdad Messi received support from the Flanders Audiovisual Film Fund/Film Fund of Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Sven Gatz.

Published on Monday 26 January 2015

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