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by Yasir Kareem from Baghdad

Dunia by Yasir Kareem
Salam Yousry © Goethe-Institut

Yasir Kareem was born in the southern city of Nasiriyah. He completed his degree in Chemistry in 2010 from College of Chemistry in Baghdad. Then he started a Master’s degree 2015-2017 in Europe in film directing, completing his scholarship with a joint Master’s programme in Portugal and Scotland.
As a child, he wrote poetry and short stories but because his family, like most Iraqi families, placed greater importance on medicine and engineering, he embarked on a degree in chemistry. This, however, failed to fulfil his passion for art, which he would later go on to study.

What inspired his film

Yasir’s project is a drama, his feature film. It is named after one of his four sisters, Dunia, and inspired by her story as a woman in southern Iraq. Through his personal journey of self-discovery, he saw how men and women were strictly governed by their prescribed gender roles in society and came to recognise how men have a feminine side and women a masculine side.
Once he finished studying in the EU, he began to research more on this subject. Yasir says that artists in Iraq cover social problems, while he believes personal problems should also be covered. “Movies should come from our inner selves, otherwise they are no different than propaganda,” he says. 

The main message of the film/plot

The film is in the development stage, but most of the short clip/promo is ready. Dunia is a feature Fiction film, in which Spotlight Iraq supported the development stage to produce a short film as a teaser for the feature film.
The story follows the character of Dunia, who is trying to save one of her students from forced marriage. She fails and discovers that the girl has committed suicide, which causes Dunia to feel much shame and guilt. She starts on a journey to divorce and dedicate her life to saving others from a similar fate.
The main message is that although forced marriages have changed from those in the past, there is still tremendous pressure on women to be able to find a good man. Many women’s lives mean nothing if they don’t have a man to rely on and the presence of a man means better status for the woman.
Yasir says that in Iraqi society, a woman has very little value on her own. If she lives without her parents, she is nothing. This is why a woman must find a husband. This is also another form of forced marriage, he explains.
The film is still in the making, and Yasir hopes to be able to gain more support to complete it. Yasir is grateful that Spotlight Iraq funded the development stage of the production of the script and the trailer.