Mohammed Daradji has arrived in Cannes fresh from location scouting in

The young Baghdad-born director, who had festival success with his
first feature Ahlaam (Dreams), 2005, has teamed up with British
director-producer Antonia Bird to produce his second film, also to be shot
in the war-torn country.

Bird, who has a particular interest in the region following her 2004 film
The Hamburg Cell, about the the lead-up to 9/11, has a slate of Middle
East-themed projects in development, as an advisor, a producer and

Iraqi director Daradji takes his script for Umm Hussain to the Sundance
Lab next month, and aims to be shooting in Iraq by the end of the year.

The ambitious project is co-produced by French producer Dimitri de Clercq,
Palestinian director-producer Rashid Mashawari, and Daradji's
UK/Iraq-based company Human Film, with Bird executive producing.

They have support from Screen Yorkshire, the Royal Jordanian Film Commission, and are in discussions with the UK's New Cinema Fund. 'There are 18 cities in
Iraq and not all are at war. We're planning to shoot in the south of the
country where it's quite safe at the moment, and may do some scenes in
Jordan. I insist on shooting in Iraq - it's the only way to really tell
the story.'

The film tells the story of a mother, Umm Hussain, who travels from
Kurdistan to the south of Iraq with her young grandson in 2003, after the
American invasion, to find her son, who disappeared during the Saddam

Daradji plans to travel to Iraq in July to conduct workshops aimed
at finding and training a local crew in preparation for the shoot later in
the year. This informal film school is sponsored by Kodak.