Publisher/Manufacturer: Zahra Pictures LLC (2007)
Product specifications: DVD - approximate running time 65 minutes; all regions DVD (NTSC)
Item type: DVD
After the fall of Baghdad, criminal activity spread quickly throughout the city. Iraqis from all walks of life were falling victim, not only to politically motivated violence, but to other terrible crimes such as kidnapping, blackmail and murder, that were committed by rampant gangs.
In this film, several Iraqis share their stories of unimaginable physical and emotional abuse at the hands of these gangs, including one family s ordeal after the abduction and brutal murder of their son, Wissam, a hopeful contestant on an Iraqi television song competition. And, Rana, a young Iraqi woman, who describes her despair after being abducted from her own home and later on forsaken by her father. These and other stories in the film shed light on the grim situation that Iraqis are enduring daily as a result of this gang related violence.
The DVD includes an interrogation of a real gang caught by Al-Mahdi army, a militant group notorious in their own right. The footage was obtained secretly and has never been shown. It provides a scary look into the mind of an Iraqi gang member and the psychology of violence.
The film was an official selection of the Hollywood Film Festival and many other festivals around the World.
The film is in ARABIC with ENGLISH subtitles.
About the Director
Aida Schlaepfer, a film director and artist, was born in Baghdad to a Lebanese mother and an Iraqi father, and spent her childhood living between her parents homelands. At age 20, she moved to Europe, where she studied German for several years before eventually settling in Switzerland. Always interested in film and the arts despite having been trained as an accountant, Aida earned a degree in Art and Media Design at F+F Schule für Kunst und Mediendesign in Zurich. In 2003, she relocated to Egypt to attend the High Cinema Institute at the prestigious Academy of Arts in Cairo, earning a post-graduate diploma in Film Directing.
Aida has several films to her credit, including Shadow Black and White (2001), Silent Screening inside a Woman (2002), East and West Dancing (2003), Marionette (2005), Gangs of Baghdad 2007, Homeland 2008, and an educational film created in 2006 for the German School in Cairo. Marionette, in particular, received wide exposure and was screened at film festivals around the world, including Poland (2006), Houston (2006 Bronze Medal winner), Cairo (National Festival of Cinema; Saqeyat Al Sawee Cultural Center; French and Russian Cultural Centers, 2006; Independent Film Encounter IFE, 2007), France (2007), Berlin (2007) and Tunisia (2007). In addition, her paintings have been exhibited throughout Lebanon, Switzerland and Egypt.
Aida credits her personal experience of having watched Lebanon and Iraq descend into war and anarchy with instilling within her a deep understanding of how destructive war is both physically and psychologically. This understanding and personal experience with war motivated Aida to complete a one-year professional training in mediation in Zurich; it was also the impetus behind the creation of Gangs of Baghdad. More than anything, Aida hopes to bring global attention to the plight of the vulnerable and galvanize action for change with her films.