Young filmmaker Hareth Al Homam (b.1987) took part in the Pavilion of Iraq at the 55th Venice Biennale. His short film, Buzz, exemplifies the stilted, mediated nature of communications between the sexes in modern Iraq in spite of the advent of social media. We follow the short story of a young man and a young woman as they navigate daily life in Baghdad with family and friends. Alhomaam is part of a group of young filmmakers in Baghdad who persist in bravely pushing the boundaries of censorship in order to present a true picture of daily life.
What ideas do your films explore? For me, film is an art-form that can portray specific cases and moments of day to day life. In my own work, I have my friends and peers in mind, young Iraqis who are frustrated by religious and tribal laws that restrict intimacy between unmarried couples. Often, men and women have to meet in secret.
What are the biggest influences on your work? Iraqi society and the numerous and rapid transitions of life. Also many friends and Iraqi filmmakers, have a big influence: Bashar Kathim, Zeydoon Hussein, Rahm Abed El Karim, Samer Dashar and of course, Furat Al Jamil. I also follow the work of a number of Iraqi artists living abroad, the writer Hassan Blasim and choreographer Muhannad Rashid Al-Moghtarban, among others.
How does your work at the Pavilion reflect every day life in Iraq? Portraying daily life in Iraq is the most important aspect of my work. This is not the Iraq associated with danger, politics and war. In Buzz, which is on display at the Iraq Pavilion, I portray a specific segment of society that is relatively unknown to the outside world. I think that its subject matter will surprise visitors of the Iraq Pavilion.
Why is it important for the Ruya foundation to highlight artists from within Iraq? The Ruya Foundation is committed to arts and cultural affairs within Iraq. The role it played in bringing Iraqi artists to the Venice Biennale is a sign of its vision to support the initiation and development of the Iraqi art scene.
What are your upcoming projects? I have been thinking of new ways to make and produce my films. I have enrolled on a writer’s workshop with other Iraqi filmmakers, living within and outside Iraq.