Ruya Foundation was sorry to hear of Luay Fadhil’s untimely death in Baghdad where his body was found six days after he disappeared.

Born in Baghdad in 1982, Fadhil was a filmmaker and one of the artists in Ruya’s Archaic exhibition of the Iraq Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

After training as a construction engineer, Fadhil took a course in film-making at the New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi.

Luay Fadhil presents The Scribe at the Venice Biennale 2017. Photo: Ruya Foundation

His short film Lipstick (2012), about sex education classes at a boy’s high school in Baghdad won the Gold Award at the Festival International du Film Oriental de Genève 2014. His film Cotton (2013), about a young girl from a village outside Najaf, a holy city for Shi’a Muslims, won several awards including Best Director at the Dubai International Film Festival 2014.

Both films addressed the absence of sex education in Iraq, and the fragility of teenage hood. “Teenage years are the most dangerous in the development of a human being. These are the fragile years when a person’s ethics and opinions are formed. The terrorists and militias that we have in Iraq today are often recruited as teenagers,” he said.

Fadhil’s work for the Iraq Pavilion entitled The Scribe, was a short film about the ardahalchis or scribes still found in Iraqi cities, who write letters and draft official documents for people outside public buildings.

“I sat with scribes and spent the day with them, several times a week for four months. I would watch them take customers and took notes, ” Fadhil said, of the making of his film. “I realised that nobody was comfortable talking to the scribe. The scribes know all our secrets. We tell them personal stories about our families and loved ones.”

Luay Fadhil, still from Scribe (2017), commissioned by the Ruya Foundation. Courtesy of the artist.