Middle Eastern Film Festival: Ahlam (2006)

April 30, 2013 - 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Ahlam (2006), a film by Mohamed Al Daradji

Ahlam tells the story of a young woman called Ahlam, which means “dreams” in Arabic. Ahlam is a young woman in a psychiatric hospital in Baghdad: she goes crazy after her husband is killed on her wedding day. Ali is another patient of the hospital whose friend, Hasan, gets killed when the American army invaded Iraq in 2003. The film is extremely powerful and touching: Ahlam is the name of the main protagonist, but there is also a multiplicity of messages in the film. Ahlam also relates to the “dreams” of the Iraqi people in general. Through the eyes of Ahlam, we witness the madness of the situation Iraq which appears to be like a “bad dream”.

During the totality of the film, Ahlam keeps wearing her wedding dress. Is Ahlam a representation of Iraq today? A woman who falls on her wedding day, gets raped and gets lost in Baghdad’s streets prevented by American soldiers from retrieving her family? It is only one reading however, as Mohamed Al-Daradji, the film-maker defends himself from telling his story from any particular political angle. Rather, it is a film about fate: a number of scenes are significant to show that. Hints on religion are being made from time to time, and it seems it is quite significant in the interpretation of the fate of the protagonists and the Iraqi people as a whole. One scene shows a woman suffering from leprosy asking: “If Baghdad falls, do we all have to fall as well?”. At the end of the film, Ahlam’s mother asks: “Is it the reward we get for a righteous life?”. It is a disturbing and powerful film, which leaves one confused and ill at ease, just like the situation in Iraq for Iraqi people.

Free to the Public