Mesocafe

In February 2003, an underground blogger arrives in London to campaign against UN Sanctions on Iraq. Falling in love is not part of the plan.
Country: Iraq, UK Runtime: 104 Director(s): Ja’far ‘Abd Al-Hamid
Cast: Ahlam ‘Arab, Andy Lucas, Daphne Alexander, Houda Echouafni, Nasri Sayegh

FESTIVALS: Raindance Film Festival 2011, Gulf Film Festival Dubai 2012

Opposing the regime of Saddam Hussain, Yusif (Nasri Sayegh) risks his life by leaving Iraq in 2003 to come to London and campaign for the immediate lifting of UN sanctions against his country. 500,000 children are estimated to have died since the sanctions were imposed in 1990, yet Yusif has to battle through the bureaucracy, politics and self-interest that are embedded within the systems of the United Nations.

Yusif takes comfort in spending time at ‘Mesocafe,’ a tavern in London where many Iraqis congregate. Here he finds a community including the love-wise owner Zaynab, Tawfiq a young man constantly phoning his wife in Syria, and Suad, still mourning the loss of her husband in the first war. Here too he meets Bisan (Daphne Alexander) and falls in love. For Yusif, Bisan in a way represents Iraq: beautiful, personable and intelligent; she carries an old-fashioned jewel-embroidered purse, a traditional design that takes Yusif back to his childhood. In difficult times, however, they must both face challenges that threaten themselves and their close ones.

A sense of longing for home and despair at the apparently inevitable war permeate the film which becomes as much a movie about politics as it is a movie about the lives of exiled Iraqis in London.

AVAILABILITY: Worldwide

About The Director

Born in Iraq, Ja’far moved with his family to other parts of the Arab world before settling in London in the mid 1980s. While reading social sciences at the University of London, Ja’far began to assist in independent TV and radio productions in London. He was exposed to film production through 16mm film courses at London’s Lux Centre, Hoxton.

During his film studies, which culminated with a PhD in Film Adaptations in the Cinema of the Arab World, Ja’far worked on a number of TV and radio projects in London. He also produced and directed “Test Drive” (16mm) in 1999 and the short film “Eyes Wide Open” (16mm) which was finally edited in 2005. In addition, he wrote for the screen and directed “A Two Hour Delay” (BW 16mm) in 2000, which screened at a festival for independent cinema in Doha in 2001. Ja’far has also helped organise film festivals in London and the Gulf region.