Iraqi film Hanging Gardens wins big at 13th Malmö Arab Film Festival

Ati Metwaly , Saturday 6 May 2023

Directed by Iraqi filmmaker Ahmed Yassin Al-Darraji, Hanging Gardens won three major awards at the 13th Malmö Arab Film Festival (MAFF).

Hanging Garden


Competing in the Feature Film Competition, Hanging Gardens won Best Fiction Film, Best Screenplay (Ahmed Yassin Aldaradji and Margaret Glover) and Best Actor (Hussain Muhammad Jalil) awards.

The awards were presented to the director and the crew during the festival’s closing ceremony, which took place on Thursday.

Ganging Gardens' synopsis reads: "When a young Iraqi rubbish picker rescues an American sex doll from the Baghdad dumps, he crosses into a perilous red zone, where friends become enemies, and nothing is certain in an explosive mix of love, war and madness."

Prior to its success at Malmo, Hanging Gardens won Best Feature Film at the 2022 edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Daradji is known for the film Stray (2018) and Children of God (2013), the latter of which won the Muhr Arab Special Mention and FIPRESCI Prize for Best Arab Short Film at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2013.

This year the festival's main competition screened 12 films, seven of which are directed by women filmmakers.

During the closing ceremony, the jury stated, "We applaud the excellent selection of films that took part in the MAFF's main competition. Each one revealed the director's strong vision and cinematic passion, telling stories that touch hearts and minds. So many films explore the struggle, joys, challenges and moral choices of life in a world haunted by the menacies of war. But they also show the joy of the new times and hopes."

See below all the winning films in the 13th edition of MAFF:

Best Fiction Feature Film Award: Hanging Gardens by Ahmed Yassin Al Darraji (Iraq)
Best Non-Fiction Feature Film Award: Hyphen by Reine Razzouk (Lebanon)
Jury Award: Batata by Noura Kevorkian (Syria)
Best Director Award: Firas Khoury (Palestine) for his film Alam
Best Actress Award: Adila Bendimerad for her role in The Last Queen (Algeria)
Best Actor Award: Hussain Muhammad Jalil for his role in Hanging Gardens by Ahmed Yassin Al Darraji
Best Screenwriter Award: Hanging Gardens by Ahmed Yassin Al Darraji (Iraq). The film is co-written by Ahmed Yassin Aldaradji and Margaret Glover.
Special Mention Award: Under the Fig Trees by Erige Sehiri (Tunisia)

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