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Laura Mulvey at the Berlin Film Festival

Professor Laura Mulvey describes her latest film, 23 August 2008, which was recently selected for the Berlin Film Festival.

Professor Laura Mulvey describes her latest film, 23 August 2008, which was recently selected for the Berlin Film Festival.

In 2013 I made a film for the first time for twenty years, co-directed once again with Mark Lewis with whom I had made Disgraced Monuments in 1993.  Mark’s collaboration made possible 23 August 2008, a project that I had nurtured for some time with Faysal Abdullah. It was selected for the New York Film Festival in autumn 2013 and then for the Berlin Film Festival (Forum Expanded) in February 2014. Faysal and I attended the Berlin screenings and we were extremely pleased by the response the film received: although its story is both important and of intrinsic interest, we chose to film it in a minimal cinematic style.  As a result, there is always a slight tension over audience reactions to the film.

23 August 2008 consists of two shots.  A brief opening shot, intercut with inter-titles, of the famous Al Mutanabbi Street book market in Baghdad is followed by an unbroken eighteen-minute monologue, shot from a single, still camera position and simply recording the speaker’s words without interruption.  In it, Faysal gradually builds a portrait of his relationship with his younger brother, Kamel, and, in the process, evokes the lives of Iraqi intellectuals of the left, driven into exile in the early 1980s by Saddam Hussein’s regime.  Faysal describes Kamel’s decision to return to Iraq in 2003, his work for the new Ministry of Culture and his tragic death at the hands of unknown assassins on 23 August 2008. While the film throws light on little known aspects of Iraq’s political history, primarily it is the story of the two brothers, of Faysal’s devotion to Kamel and their contrasting attitudes to exile and to life itself.

Laura Mulvey will be directing our new MA in Film Curating, starting 2014/15.

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