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The First Movie

Middle East, Islam, War, World Affairs, Film & Film History, Iraq
Mark Cousins
76 minutes


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*Official Selection SXSW Film Festival
*Royal Television Society Programme Award Nominee*
*Official Selection Telluride Film Festival
*Best Arts Documentary Prix Italia
*Official Selection Dubai International Film Festival
*Official Selection Palm Springs International Film Festival

"A terrifically enjoyable and engaging film: open-minded and open-hearted, and utterly unlike the material on regular commercial release" -Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

"The First Movie is an achingly lyrical story of honesty, honour and hope" -Ken Russell, The Times

"Engrossing and genuinely revealing." -The Independent

"A refreshing, unusual take on the war-zone documentary. Rewarding and thought provoking." -Anna Smith, Time Out


THE FIRST MOVIE is a tribute to the imaginative resilience of children. When filmmaker Mark Cousins and his crew travel to Goptapa, a small Kurdish Village in Northern Iraq devastated by Saddam Hussein's regime, they discover children who have known nothing but war their entire lives and have never experienced the magic of cinema. The filmmakers sew together a movie screen from old sheets and set up a projector, instantly creating a movie theater that plays children's classics in the village center. But the real magic happens when the children receive Flip camcorders and create their own movies filled with a child's wonder and boundless imagination. The resulting films are the true gift of THE FIRST MOVIE; they are tickets to see a different Iraq, and the world, through a child's transformative eyes. The film conveys the power of cinema to enchant and inspire, even amidst the bloodshed of war.



Mark Cousins

Mark Cousins is a Belfast-born documentary filmmaker, author and curator. He has made numerous documentaries on Neo-Nazism, Gorbachev, the first Gulf War and Iranian cinema. Cousins is an Honorary Dr of Letters at the University of Edinburgh and Honorary Lecturer at the University of Stirling. He has also published four books, was a BBC TV presenter and was director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Cousins co-directed Cinema China, and has guest curated film fests around the world. He also co-founded the charity Scottish Kids are Making Movies, is co-director of 4Way Pictures.


"Fascinating... Cousins succeeds in producing peaceful, whimsical portraits of Iraq, a place where common imagery is often of violence and suffering." -DCist

"The First Movie is a beautiful work" -Slackerwood

"A quite moving documentary" -Austin360

"I loved it" -Wim Wenders

“This charming documentary on innocence and image-making from that venerable Northern Irish critic/filmmaker Mark Cousins offers rich insights into how we produce and consume cinema. -David Jenkins, Time Out

"Delightful, extremely affecting documentary... beautifully shot" -Philip French, The Observer

“A woozy, dream-like, magical-realist movie which demonstrates that despite living amid a landscape of conflict, the minds of the children are ‘like Aladdin's caves’ ” -David Brown, Radio Times

"A lyrical and uplifting testament to the enduring power of imagination. -The Metro

Intriguing and inspiring -Andrew Johnstone, Belfast Telegraph

“Life affirming” -Sunday Herald

“Best Children’s Film: The First Movie. Mark Cousins hands out cameras to Iraqi children with magical, melodious results.” -Sukhdev Sandhu, Daily Telegraph

"The First Movie captures the amazement and wonder of the big screen." -STV


The First Movie - Educational Use



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