This film is a result of a commission from Reel Festivals as part of Reel Iraq 2013 and funded by Literature Across Frontiers and the British Council.
Based on a poem by Ghareeb Iskander.
Directed/Produced & filmed by Roxana Vilk
Edited by Maryam Ghorbankarimi
Sound Design & Music Peter Vilk,
Poem translation by John Glenday & Bridging translation by Lauren Pyott
Assistant Director James Sadri.
In January 2013 Roxana Vilk was invited to create films inspired by poets and poems encountered from both Iraq and Scotland as part of the Reel Iraq festival in Erbil. It was an incredible trip and an honour to work with Reel Festivals again. Roxana first heard Ghareeb Iskander's poem, during a magical evening in the mountain village of Shaqlawa when the poets were sharing the fruits of the first days of translating each others works over a glass of wine.. or two.... As John Glenday read out in English his translation of Ghareeb's poem, Roxana was immediately struck by the imagery in it and how the sentiment resonated with how Roxana felt on coming to Iraq for the first time - a mixture of feeling the weight of the history mixed with an aching sense of loss. I should also add at this point that the poem in the film is an extract of a much longer work ( in three acts) on Gilgamesh.
Image wise Roxana was drawn to empty sites across Erbil. First of all the many building sites that lay scattered across much of the city and how they had this haunted quality - almost like abandoned old theatres. Roxana was also drawn to filming in the empty ancient Citadel in the centre of Erbil which dates back over 3,000 years and had 3 years ago been emptied of its inhabitants to be preserved as a UNESCO site. Both these locations resonated with the emotional landscape in Ghareeb's poem for me and also lent visual space to house the images he was creating in the language. It was pouring with torrential rain for most of our trip which seemed fitting in some way with the sound world of Ghareeb's poem and one morning Roxana asked him to walk through an empty building site, reciting his poem in his mind, as the rain dripped loudly on the floor of the empty site. In terms of colour Roxana wanted to reflect back Erbil exactly as Roxana encountered it in January - devoid of much colour and somehow the locations had a monochromatic feel.
So our ever sharp eyed editor Maryam Ghorbankarimi and Roxana worked together strip the images back of colour and then use just touches of colour to create contrast.
Sound designer and composer Peter Vilk used the found real location sounds Roxana had recorded Iraq (such as the rain) which Peter then treated and manipulated with his software to create his sound design score, alongside melodies on the piano and polyrhythmic sounds...
For those interested in technicals - Roxana filmed on a Canon 7D and captured seperate sound on a Zoom stereo Mic, synching the sound later in the edit.
Commissioned by Reel Festivals as part of their Iraq Project 2013 and funded by Literature Across Frontiers and the British Council.