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Widescreen: The First Movie

Fresh from winning the Prix Italia for best arts documentary, Mark Cousins' account of bringing cinema to Iraqi children hits screens on Oct 1st. Here he writes to a future star of Kurdish film

By Mark Cousins   November 2009

The eight-year-old Mohamed: Kurdistan’s filmic future?

I’ve just spent three weeks in a village of 600 people in northern Iraq. Goptapa, which looks north-eastwards towards Turkey and Iran, is on a hilltop lined with goat paths. When there aren’t dust storms you can look down onto a vast oxbow lake valley whose river snakes to the Tigris and Mesopotamia. The villagers grow pomegranates and keep geese, goats and cows. About 100 of them were gassed in Saddam’s Anfal operation in the late 1980s. There’s a new school, and a little mosque. For three nights, I made a cinema there…

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