The college and its aims
35 years of dictatorship, 3 devastating wars, 13 years of the most comprehensive sanctions in history, military occupation, virtual collapse of effective state structure, high unemployment and extreme violence, have all but silenced the voices of ordinary Iraqis.
Film and television can be powerful tools in the reconstruction of a shattered society and contribute to the re-defining and renewal of a national culture. They provide a way for a society to look at itself, to question its history and to consider its future. And they also provide a way for one section of society to talk to another.
This is why INDEPENDENT FILM & TELEVISON COLLEGE was set up in 2004 as a free-of-charge film-training centre in Baghdad. It is the first of its kind in Iraq. Our aim is to train Iraqi filmmakers and to encourage and support their filmmaking by providing access to production facilities and information about funding and further training.
The college is funded by international charities, trade unions and private donations. It is a non-profit organisation and has a support and advice group made up of film professionals from around the world (see list).
The college was founded by 2 experienced independent Iraqi filmmakers, who have been based in the UK for many years. KASIM ABID is a cameraman/director/producer and MAYSOON PACHACHI is an editor/director/producer. They are responsible for most of the teaching at the moment. As the college becomes more established and the security situation in Iraq gets better, there will be other trainers coming to work at the college. See more information on the college's directors here.
INTISHAL AL TAMIMI acts as a consultant for the college. He is an Iraqi photographer, who is based in the Netherlands. For many years, he has directed film festivals all over Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He is putting together a film festival in Baghdad, which the college hopes to mount in the near future and advising on the building of our library.
Programme of courses
We offer a series of one-, two- and three-month courses, free of charge, for 20-25 students at a time. On each course at least 25% will be women and half will be students from outside Baghdad, for whom we will provide accommodation.
We teach camera, sound, lighting, editing, documentary and short fiction filmmaking. In the future we also aim to have courses in TV reportage features, studio work and animation. In all our courses, students will learn professional crew discipline and achieve a grasp of basic filmmaking techniques and ideas, which they can then go on to develop.
Our training for the moment is on DV cameras and non-linear editing equipment. In time we hope to introduce 16mm film as well.
What we have achieved so far
The biggest problem we face is the difficult security situation in Iraq. This has meant we have to work in a piecemeal and flexible fashion, always mindful of the safety of our students, which means that sometimes a course that is, for example, scheduled to take 3 months can often take longer. But in the end the work gets done and no one gets hurt.
So far, we have managed to run a course in basic camera, sound and lighting a course in documentary filmmaking, where students produced their own short films (link to 4 films). We are now running another documentary course, where students are again making their own short films.
Our training programme has enabled some of our students to find jobs in Iraq in the media, on camera and editing.
As we raise the money to buy more equipment, we hope to be able to offer our former students and other Iraqi filmmakers the use of our facilities free-of-charge or for nominal fees. When they are not being used by our students, our facilities may also be available for outside hire.
We are setting up a video and DVD library of world-class documentary and fiction films to which our students and other interested Iraqi filmmakers can refer.