with Iraqi photographer and filmmaker Maythem Ridha


Casa da Cultura

residencia de cinema

Iraqi Tales

the hybrid interface between reality and fiction

Iraqi filmmaker and photographer Maythem Ridha shares his journey in making film and photography projects in the Middle East and North Africa, in at times hostile environments. Showing clips from his various film and photography projects, he shares his experience, challenges and technique that he has used in working at the intersection of where documentary and drama overlap in order to tell unique stories that touch the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide.


  1. Introduction
  2. Screening ALI AND HIS MIRACLE SHEEP - 26 minute film followed by discussing some behind the scenes stories and challenges to “the interface between reality & fiction”.
  3. Showing photos from 2 photography collections and discussing how Maythem uses photography as a starting point to research and develop ideas set in reality but aimed at visually driven films with minimal to no dialogue / voice over.
  4. Showing a clip from AL-BAGHDADI, a film Maythem wrote at the University of Oxford and the National Film and Television School, and discussing how to find real life events and stories that can be fictionalised / dramatised in order to tell a more powerful “truth”.
  5. Showing clip from DRIFTING ON THE WIND - discussing thinking poetically & visually about a story idea in order to touch not only the minds but also the hearts of audiences.
  6. TEAR MAKER PHOTO BOOK AND EXHIBITION - Showing photos from his upcoming photobook TEAR MAKER, Maythem discusses how structuring a sequence of photos (in this example a photobook) has helped to work as a starting point to his new film. Then showing a teaser of TEAR MAKER FILM (a feature doc / drama hybrid in production) and discussing how powerful stories, myths and legends can affect our psyche and define who we are and how we see the world.
  7. Showing a teaser of 40 YEARS OF SILENCE and discussing how Maythem had to train as a psychotherapist in order to direct his latest protagonist to utilise memory, trauma and psychotherapy techniques to work on his next hybrid feature film. This film follows the story of the daughter of the first person to try to assassinate Saddam Hussein and her journey to heal herself from that childhood trauma and in the process uncovers a previously unseen aspect of Iraq.

Maythem Ridha

maythem ridha

Maythem spent his formative years in Iraq before fleeing with his family into exile. He has many years’ experience creating award-winning film and photography projects. His films have been selected for major international film festivals, broadcasted, distributed in cinemas and won many accolades and prizes. He also made films in English & Arabic for BBC World Service and ART Europe. Maythem wrote IRAQI TALES, a body of stories for film, at the University of Oxford and then at the National Film & Television School (UK). From this DRIFTING ON THE WIND was chosen by over 20 international film festivals, winning the Director’s Award at Hearts & Minds. Following this, AL-BAGHDADI won the Gold Prize for Best Foreign Language Film at the International Filmmaker Festival. ALI AND HIS MIRACLE SHEEP, his latest installment from IRAQI TALES had its world premiere and won the prestigious Best Film Award at Sheffield Doc Fest UK Competition 2021 and has since been selected by over 40 major international festivals, winning over 20 awards and distinctions. Maythem’s photographic work has been published and exhibited in several one-man shows and joint exhibitions of award-winning projects such as AL-INTITHAR, INTERFACE and the more recent MY CAMERA IN EXILE collections. Winner of Al Hambra Award for Excellence in the Arts, Maythem works with a diverse range of international projects as well as leading workshops and masterclasses in filmmaking and photography. After the Iraqi Cultural Centre (UK) held an exhibition of his work in London, he began the development of his successfully published photo book, BEYOND MOMENTS : MOROCCO. Maythem is currently working on several new film and photography projects including 40 YEARS OF SILENCE and TEAR MAKER which is set against the backdrop of the Iraqi desert.