Baghdad Messi is a heartbreaking 19 minute short film that recently became available on Amazon Prime. The film was just shy of the final cut of nominees for Live Action Short Film of the 2014 Academy Awards.
Writer-Director Sahim Omar Kalifa shot the movie in Iraqi Kurdistan, where he grew up. In a TEDx talk, Kalifa said he wanted to express the happiness that football brought him as a child, helping him to survive the constant war around him. Ostensibly, the film’s theme was that love (passion) helps one to feel less pain, and to “Focus on your passion and forget the world around you”.
But coming from my middle class existence, when I watch this film as a mom, all I can feel is pity for a one-legged child who can only play soccer with other boys if his TV is working, and remorse for the destruction of simple lives, wrought by foreign interference in the Middle East. So I am effectively blind to any happiness or joy in this movie.
The cinematography is wonderful, and like the other cultural soccer films I’ve reviewed, Baghdad Messi is a chance to learn about the world away from our comfortable existence. I am grateful to Kalifa, Kobe Van Steenberghe, and A Team Productions for this little film. Well worth 19 minutes of your viewing life.
In Arabic (?) with English sub-titles
SoccerMovieMom Rating = 7