Geneva Anderson digs into art

“In My Mother’s Arms”—a powerful Iraqi documentary tells of one man’s courageous attempts to shelter Iraq’s abandoned war orphans

In My Mother’s Arms (2011) 82 min, Directed by Atea Al Daradji, Mohamed Al Daradji

This compelling documentary, up for the Golden Gate Award for a documentary feature at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF 55) , follows Husham Al Thabe, a caring and courageous Iraqi man who runs his own orphanage  in Baghdad’s most dangerous district, Sadr City.  He works tirelessly to build the hopes, dreams and prospects of the 32 traumatized children of war under his care in the modest two bedroom house he rents.  Many of these children used to reside in state-run orphanages where they were abused or neglected.  Under Husham’s care, they have slowly started to come out of their shells, but most have peristent trust issues and behavioral problems and are starved for affection and individual attention.  They dream of being held in the loving arms of a nurturing female.  Husham is consistently denied financial support from the Iraqi government which insists that the children would fare better in a state run orphanage and in orphan schools.  Husham just manages to survive through the donations of concerned individuals.   The situation is crowded but functional–the boys are well fed, well clothed, do well in school and pursue extracurrcular activities, like diving.  It takes time to build trust but slowly the boys learn to trust and confide some in each other and in Husham.  When the landlord gives Husham and the boys just two weeks to vacate, a desperate search for a new home ensues.  This film reflects the bitter reality of life for an entire generation of young Iraqis growing up in a war-torn society and the tremendous difference that a single caring dedicated and tenacious individual like Husham Al Thabe can make.  (Screens at Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 9 PM)

55th S.F. International Film Festival

When: Thursday, April 19, 2012 through Thursday, May 3, 2012

5 Venues: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post Street, San Francisco, S.F. Film Society Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco, Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco, SFMOMA, 151 Third Street, San Francisco, Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Tickets: $11 to $13 for most films with a variety of multiple screening passes. Special events generally start at $20
More info: (415) 561-5000,

May 1, 2012 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment