Original review featured on the Doha Film Institute website.

Film: In My Mother’s Arms
Directors: Atea Al Daradji, Mohamed Al Daradji
Stars: Saif Husham
Duration: 82 mins

This powerful documentary follows two and a half years in the life of an orphanage in Baghdad run by Husham, who is devoting his life in protecting children from the dangers of the streets. While not supported by the government, he struggles to keep the orphanage running and is determined to try his best in providing a decent life and education for the children.

The children are mostly orphans of people killed or kidnapped; all traumatized to various degrees and in need of special attention. Husham wants to make sure they mingle with normal children at school in order not to grow up feeling alienated. He counts on a number of volunteers to assist him, but with every passing day they face a different obstacle. One day, the landlord decides to the orphanage should be vacated within two weeks. The children risk sleeping in the streets and Husham doesn’t know where to turn to for help.

“In My Mother’s Arms” is one of the most powerful documentaries showing at this year’s Gulf Film Festival. The children are undoubtedly the main stars, growing a little too fast in a war-torn country. As Saif, around 8 years old, sings at one point: “I’m too young to endure all this”. He is filled with bitterness and mystery and doesn’t remember his parents who were killed in a bombing. All he remembers is his mother’s name. Only music brings him out of his silence.

“In My Mother’s Arms” reflects a reality that affects a whole generation of young Iraqis, who if not properly taken care of, might end up in extremist groups. This is not simply a documentary – it has a more noble purpose.

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