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Two women filmmakers whose work was recognised last month at the first-ever documentary film festival in Iraqi Kurdistan have cited IWPR training as a major influence in their careers.
Films produced by Iraqi video journalists Shara Nsar and Talar Mohammed were shortlisted from a field of 21 documentaries at the four-day October festival in Halabja.
Nsar and Mohammed, who were the only women to participate in the festival, made their films in conjunction with IWPR's television magazine, TVMAG, and the Women's Media Initiative, WMI, programmes.
Mohammed's No Space for Dance and Nsar's Stop Female Genital Mutilation were screened at the festival's finale as nominees for the best editing award.
“Both IWPR's films were interesting. Shedding light on these matters is a big step for women and their rights in our society,” Awat Osman, a judge at the festival, said.
Horen Ghareb, manager of the IWPR's TV MAG programme, said he was thrilled with the filmmakers’ achievement.
"Frankly, I am very happy to hear our films and documentaries are good enough to be entered for festivals,” he said.
Osman said that the judges’ selection process was based on international documentary standards, adding that the subjects and technical quality of the IWPR films had made them stand out.
The filmmakers said that IWPR had played an important role in helping them to master production and narrative techniques.
“Having my film appear in the festival has been a great honour for me, said Mohammed, who has produced three films under the WMI initiative, including Homeland in a Garden and Nawroz.
It is a great tribute for any producer to have their film shown and honoured. Documentaries are important because they show the real side of society. People can learn a lot from this type of journalism," she said.
“I personally love my work and making films is fascinating for me. I am thankful to IWPR for the opportunity and I think their programmes are great. My training with IWPR taught me new techniques that I wasn’t aware of, and I think this paid off with how well the films were received at the festival.”
Osman described Nsar's choice of subject - generally regarded as taboo in Kurdish society - as brave and important.
"At IWPR I basically learned to work in video and I produced this feature by myself,” Nsar said. “Frankly, I didn't expect my film to be screened at a festival and it was a great honour for me because it was my first time. This has encouraged me to continue making films and following this career path.”
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