Archive for November, 2013

November 24th 2013

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Greetings friends,

After premiering in competition at the Raindance International Film Festival in 2011, and screening in competition at the Gulf Film Festival in Dubai in 2012, we are thrilled to announce the Video On Demand release of our feature film MESOCAFÉ on the newly launched Raindance Releasing platform.


The release is currently limited to the UK and Eire, but we hope to expand the VOD footprint in the near future.

The film:

Logline: In February 2003, an Iraqi underground blogger arrives in London to campaign against UN Sanctions on his country. Falling in love is not part of the plan.

Short Synopsis:

A few weeks before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, an underground blogger risks his life by travelling from Baghdad to London to campaign for the lifting of UN Sanctions on Iraq. As political intrigue thwarts his heartfelt attempts to highlight the suffering of his people under the sanctions, he takes refuge at Mesocafé, a little Baghdad in West London. With their Arab, Assyrian, Jewish and Kurdish heritage, members of the Iraqi community allow him into their lives, sharing with him their stories and dreams. It is here that he meets the beautiful Bisan.

What is it about?

MESOCAFÉ is as much a love story between a Briton of Iraqi origins and a visitor to London from Iraq as it is about the idea of exile and immigration; the way in which migrants carry with them into their new country an imagined homeland and a way of life that are more a product of memories than the real country. These themes permeate a narrative about the confusion and wariness that many members of the Iraqi diaspora felt in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Mesocafé in numbers:

- 3 Weeks and 4 Days of filming in London.

- 8 Years from the moment the idea was conceived to the birth of the film on the big screen.

- 11 Languages spoken on set.

- 20 Nationalities of cast and crew, united in their love of cinema.

- 32 Speaking Parts.

- 145 Weeks of post-production.

- 28,000 Feet of Super 16mm film.

Peace and love,

November 17th 2013

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Filmwise: The second rewrite of the fifth draft of the little girl in Baghdad story is underway.

My first…

Taking advantage of my membership at a cinema chain, I took my seat in the small auditorium at a multiplex. The cold November night had added haste to my footsteps en route here.

Unusually for this picture house, there was a young female employee welcoming people as they entered the screening room.

When the adverts and trailers ended, she stepped into the pool of light from an overhead spotlight.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the special preview screening of ‘Saving Mr. Banks.’”

And she went on to explain in simple terms the cinema chain’s plans for more such events,  inviting us to leaf through the programme and book in advance.

On the way out, I thanked her for the introduction.

“Good speech.”

“It was my first!”

Peace and love,


November 10th 2013

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

November 10th 2013

Filmwise: Have completed the first version of the fifth draft of the little girl in Baghdad screenplay. Over the next fortnight, I will spend more time on specific scenes and areas. On track for completing the new draft by the start of December.


As part of the 10th anniversary celebrations of the launch of the Dubai International Film Festival, the organisers have been working for the past year on compiling a list of the top 100 Arab films of all times.

Having spent a decade studying Arabic cinema and literature, I am pleasantly surprised to find a few films in the list that I have not yet watched.

The compilation of the list is particularly good in view of the transparent methodology adopted for its creation. Each film in the list is presented on the DIFF website along with the names of Arab and international filmmakers and critics who voted for the film.

I am looking forward to the books that will be published as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations at DIFF.

Peace and love,


November 3rd 2013

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Filmwise: With the help of three days holiday from work, an auspicious start has been made on the fifth draft of the little girl in Baghdad story. Should be able to complete this rewrite by the month’s end. All good.


My first experience of “Trick or Treat” was a few years ago, when I was heading towards a small cinema in Bermondsey. Two children, accompanied by whom I assumed was their mother, stopped me in the street: “Trick or Treat!”, they said. It was only thanks to Halloween-set films that I knew what the encounter meant. It cost me a pound.

This Thursday, en route home from a meal with a friend, I was stopped by a group of teenagers covered in all manner of fake blood and make-up. “Would you like a bag of Maltesers?”

I explained that I didn’t have any change with me.

“No money; we just have too much of it!”

A few feet later, I passed a house with the front garden draped in fake cobwebs, and two lit pumpkins by the gate. The note read: “Sorry, out of candy! Happy Halloween.”

For a moment, I thought of donating my bag of Maltesers, but it was too delicious a prospect.

Peace and love,