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2016 Asian American International Film Festival | New York City


Narrative, Events / 60 mins


Asian American / Asian Research Institute - CUNY
July 26, 2016 4:00 pm First come, first served


This program is free and open to the public.

Each year, AAIFF selects one work-in-progress from the submissions for a dynamic workshop. This year we’ve chosen DANA DANA (PEARL PEARL). The workshop will be moderated by filmmaker Steven De Castro

About The Film: 

After receiving death threats, Mohamed – a young and talented Iraqi musician – has to flee his country to save his life. With the help of a friend he travels through Europe, going from country to country until he reaches Britain, where he hopes to find asylum. His life depends on gaining refugee status.

While awaiting the Home Office’s decision, Mohamed is struck by the reality of his new life. Playing music is replaced by never ending dish washing in London’s restaurants.

Already depressed, Mohamed finds out that he has lost the love of his life to an arranged marriage. Constant calls for help from his friends in Iraq, and fears for his family’s safety back home push him to the edge of suicide. Unable to slit his own throat, he decides to jump in the River Thames.

Poised at the river’s edge, Mohamed hears the poignant, soulful music of a busker, and he reconsiders. Realizing this fellow musician has rescued him, Mohamed picks up his guitar and begins to busk himself. Impressed by the performance and melodies of the young Iraqi musician, a radio producer stops by and offers Mohamed an invitation to play his music on a popular Radio programme. The encounter brings Mohamed back to hope.

On the day of the programme, Mohamed receives a call from the Home Office – he has to report immediately to finalize the decision about his refugee status. Mohamed is forced to choose between a meeting that may allow for him to stay in Britain, and the biggest break in his music career.

Moderator’s Bio: 

Before his filmmaking career, Steven De Castro served as a civil rights organizer in Arkansas, a Human Rights Commissioner of Jersey City, a trial lawyer in New York specializing in tenant’s rights, and Vice President of the Asian American Bar Association of New York.  His first film, Fred Ho’s Last Year, has been shown in film festivals across the United States, including International Film Festival of Manhattan, Asian American International Film Festival/ Asian Cinevision, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, CAAMfest, Boston Asian American Film Festival, Asians on Film, and others, earning the “Best Documentary Feature” award at Asians on Film in Los Angeles. He is currently working on his next feature film, JAZZAFRICA, set in Ghana, West Africa. This film will be released in 2017 and 2018.

Director’s Bio:

Mutana Mohmed is a young Iraqi Filmmaker/Actor from Baghdad, Iraq . Post 2003 Iraq war, Mutana has started the film studies at the cinema department of Baghdad fine arts college. In 2004, Mutana was invited to travel to Czech Republic and intern on the set of Hollywood film productions at Barrandov Studios in Prague. He spent one week assisting film professionals in each department starting from production design, cinematography, props, production office and even appeared in films as an extra.

Subsequently, Mutana won a scholarship to leave Czech Republic and study filmmaking at a London Film School in England. In 2007, Mutana graduated successfully from Film School obtaining a filmmaking diploma. After graduation, Mutana was unable to return to his war torn country Iraq. He stayed in the UK as a refugee to continue his filmmaking career and carried on developing, writing, directing and producing his own art house short films (Just Thinking in a Loud Voice, Colors of Happiness), which shaped his artistic vision and original style of story telling.

Mutana has developed, written and directed Dana Dana (Pearl…Pearl) – his debut feature which features some of London’s most talent film artists and cast. In late 2015, Mutana founded his London based production company House of Art Movie Productions in London where he resides permanently.

Dates & Times


Asian American / Asian Research Institute - CUNY
July 26, 2016 4:00 pm First come, first served