release date December 20 2021
Our River...Our Sky screens at Slemani International Film Festival in Iraq
Iraqi feature film Our River...Our Sky directed by Maysoon Pachachi screens in the Feature Film Competition at the 5th Slemani International Film Festival in Iraq on Monday, December 20th, at 3:00 PM Iraq time (GMT +3). This marks the film’s first screening in its production country - a project filmed locally in cooperation with Fuad Jalal Rasheed of Masti Film Production Company in Sulaymaniyah and Huda Al-Kadhimi of Ishtar Iraq Film Production in Baghdad. 
The film gained critical acclaim following its recent Arab world premiere at Cairo International Film Festival, where it was described by Kais Kassem for as “one of the best films featured in the Horizons of Arab Cinema Competition, and one of a few that tackles the Iraqi scene within the years of the factional fighting using a convincing cinematic style that poses questions about what is happening and happened before.”  Saad Elkersh for wrote of it being “A film that bets on life, and lovers of life do not shout [to make their point] but, rather, sing”.
The narrative in Our River…Our Sky (“Kulshi Makoo” in Arabic) is set against a background of sectarian violence in the last week of 2006, between Christmas and the Muslim Eid.  It tells the stories of ordinary Iraqis trying to live their everyday lives in Baghdad despite unpredictable violence. At the heart of the story is Sara, a single mother and novelist, shocked into silence by the surrounding violence and unable to write any more.  Shortly before the New Year, following unexpected news, Sara and her neighbors brace themselves for an uncertain future while trying to sustain a fragile sense of hope.
Landing its world premiere at the Sarajevo Film Festival, Our River...Our Sky previously won the $100,000 IWC Filmmaker Award at Dubai International Film Festival and was written by Pachachi in collaboration with her Baghdad-based co-writer Irada Al-Jubori, both of whom attended the Arab world premiere in Cairo in November. 
The film was initially presented at the Producers Network in Carthage and later supported by prominent institutions in the Middle East, including Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), Abu Dhabi Music & Art Foundation and Doha Film Institute.  The film was supported in Europe by Eurimages, CNC, Visions Sud Est and British Film Institute, amongst others, and was awarded The Cell Post Production award at Malmo Arab Film Festival Market Forum in 2020.  
The film’s large cast from Sulaymaniyah, Baghdad and from outside Iraq includes Darina Al Joundi (as Sara), Basim Hajar, Meriam Abbas, Amed Hashimi, Labwa Arab, Badia Obaid, Zaydun Khalaf, Siham Mustafa, Sami El Ali, Ali El Kareem and renowned Iraqi actor Mahmoud Abo Al Abbas.  Production & Costume Designer Rayah Aasee also had a minor acting role in the film too.  Iraqi film crew involved in the production as First Assistant Directors were Haider Hakim and Ahmed Yaseen Aldaradji, while soundtrack compositions were provided by Iraqi artists Khyam Allami and Ehsan Emam. Executive in Charge of Production was Ghassan Abdallah.
The production was initially developed by Oxymoron Films (UK) and Linked Productions (Kuwait) and made in co-production with its other main producers Les Contes Modernes (France) and Neue Mediopolis Filmproduktion (Germany)MAD Solutions handles the film’s distribution across the Arab world. 
Maysoon Pachachi is a London-based filmmaker of Iraqi origin who studied philosophy at University College London and attended London Film School as a student of British director Mike Leigh.  She was a documentary and drama film editor and, since 1994, has worked as an independent documentary filmmaker, mostly making films set in the Arab world.  Her films include Iranian Journey (2000), Return to the Land of Wonders (2004) and Our Feelings Took the Pictures: Open Shutters Iraq (2008).  Open Shutters received a Jury Special Mention at Arab Film Festival Rotterdam.   
Maysoon has taught editing and directing in the UK and Palestine. In 2004, with her colleague Kasim Abid, she co-founded the Independent Film and Television College, a free-of-charge film-training center in Baghdad, whose students produced 17 short documentaries that were selected in regional and international film festivals. 
Dr. Irada Al-Jubori is an Iraqi writer, researcher and women's rights activist who has received a master's degree from the Faculty of Fine Arts, and obtained a doctoral degree from the Faculty of Information, at the University of Baghdad. Her doctoral thesis was on the image of women in Iraqi cinema from 1946 to 1994. Before she co-wrote Our River...Our Sky, Al-Jubori collaborated with Maysoon Pachachi on a community art project called Open Shutters Iraq. This project was augmented by a photo exhibition and a bilingual book, and it became the focus of a documentary film by Maysoon Pachachi later on.