Hollywood star Cate Blanchett has given a $100,000 thumbs-up to a film being put together by a Leeds graduate.
Nothing Doing in Baghdad, produced by Leeds Metropolitan University graduate Talal Al-Muhanna, has been chosen as the winner of the prestigious IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Award at the Dubai International Film Festival.
Cate Blanchett was head of the jury at the Award.
Talal studied for his BA and MA degrees at The Northern Film School at Leeds Met and attended a glitzy awards bash to accept the prize, which was judged by Hobbit and Lord of the Rings star Cate.
Now based back in his home country of Kuwait, Talal, said: “The award ceremony was amazing – red carpet, paparazzi, fancy dinner party and a post-ceremony concert with Bryan Ferry!
“I am thrilled that the script for Nothing Doing in Baghdad was selected.
“The prize money will be invested into the production of the film, for which we have a complete screenplay of about 110 pages. It has been co-written by Baghdad-based novelist Irada Al Jabbouri along with Maysoon, the director, who I first came to know at a film festival in Dubai and whose films I have watched and admired over the years.”
The plot for the film centres on a female novelist and single mother who lives in a Baghdadi neighbourhood and who is struggling to through daily violence in Iraq.
It is set in the final days of 2006, beginning on Christmas Eve and ending on the dawn of the day on which Saddam Hussein was executed.
Since graduating from the Leeds, Talal has also collaborated on several award-winning documentary productions as a producer.
Head of Leeds Met’s School of Film, Music and Performing Arts, Andrew Fryer, added: “We are absolutely delighted to hear that Talal’s hard work and dedication to his art is gaining the international recognition it deserves.
“His work is repeatedly being recognised and celebrated by some of the best known people in the film industry and he is truly a great role model and an inspiration to our current students.”