By Manori Ravindran
Tull Stories has acquired the BIFA-winning feature film “Our River…Our Sky,” which will be released in U.K. cinemas in September.
The film won Best Ensemble Performance at the 2022 British Independent Film Awards and was nominated for two other BIFA awards, including Best Casting (Leila Bertrand) and Best Supporting Performance (Zainab Joda).
“Our River…Our Sky” features intersecting individual stories set in Baghdad, Iraq, at a time of intense sectarian violence and nightly curfews, unfolding over the last week of 2006 and culminating in the sudden execution of Saddam Hussein.
Dedicated to the youth of Iraq, Maysoon Pachachi’s film offers a glance at the realities of ordinary life in Baghdad, presenting a stark contrast to Western media portrayals of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and its aftermath. The film explores how people find the courage to resist the damage and renew a fragile sense of hope every day. Through the chaos and destruction, the residents never let their ambitions and desires for the future fade, but can’t help but contemplate leaving Iraq.
The film will have a preview screening at London’s Garden Cinema on March 20, marking 20 years since the invasion of Iraq, followed by a Q&A with writer-director Pachachi.
The pic is the first international co-production of a feature written and directed by women of Iraqi origin. It was written by Pachachi in collaboration with co-writer Irada Al-Jubori.
Pachachi said: “I’m overjoyed that our film will be distributed in the U.K. by Tull Stories. Jonny Tull has remarkable energy, heart and commitment and I feel the film has found its home. For me it was always important that people in the U.K. see the film as this country was a major participant in the invasion of Iraq, despite massive popular opposition.
“We focus on the daily lives of our characters as they struggle to carry on a normal life and maintain a sense of community and solidarity,” continued Pachachi. “At Q&As after screenings, people often say, ‘I asked myself, what would I have done in their place?’ For me, this empathic engagement is key and I look forward to having these discussions with audiences around the U.K.”
Jonny Tull, founder of Tull Stories, added: “‘Our River…Our Sky’ tells a magnificently human story that gives an identity to the ground-level terrors of the conflict. This is a film that looks beyond the headlines and at the people. They are us and we are them. I’m delighted to be able to work closely with Maysoon on the release of this wonderful film.”