About the film

Both brutal and beautifully poetic, this short film tells a story about escaping war and starting a new life in Norway. Kurdish-Iraqi artist Shwan Dler Qaradaki arrived in Norway as a refugee in 1999 after two years traveling through the Middle East and Europe. As a first hand witness to the atrocities of war, the artist portrays human hardship and experience in a tangible, striking way. Through combining watercolor images and voice-over narrative Qaradaki tells some of his personal stories. He invites us to see beyond the incomprehensible mass of people and events, to the lived reality of individuals. This short film is a combination of art, narrative and documentary, which creates powerful emotional experience for the viewers. It raises a discussion about relevant topics for today’s political and humanitarian challenges.

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To My Children

Director and scriptwriter: Shwan Dler Qaradaki
Watercolor and ink drawings: Shwan Dler Qaradaki
Producer: Vibeke Christensen, Kulturbyrået Mesén
Film editor and dramaturge: Inge-Lise Langfeldt
Translator and script consultant: Kate Pendry
Voice-over: Benjamin Lønne Røsler
Music and composer: Nils Økland band
music is arranged/developed in cooperation with the band Sigbjørn Apeland, Håkon Mørch Stene, Mats Eilertsen, Rolf–Erik Nystrøm and Nils Økland
Music on Saz instrument: Fouad Karim
Sound design: Sigrun Merete Mongstad
Trailer edit: Simon M. Valentine
Voiceover recording: Teknopilot’s studio
Recording technique and sound editing: Siri Schippers Skaar
Foley: Jean McGrath and Caoimhe Doyle, Ardmore Sound  
Mix: Lydhodene
Mixer: Frode Løes Hvatum

Director’s Statement:

I arrived in Norway in 1999 after living more than two years as a refugee, travelling through the Middle East and Europe. It was not an easy path, but I have done all what was in my force to carry it through. As a first hand witness to the atrocities of war, I try to share my personal experience with the world in order to raise a discussion about historical and contemporary conflicts of the Kurdish region.

I started work on this project after a visit to my family in their hometown of Suleimani, in Iraqi Kurdistan, where IS forces were stationed close by. This has shaped To My Children into a depiction of terror, war, death and flight, where the story digs deep into questions about democracy, freedom of expression and human compassion.

Being a mixed-media artist at first hand, I started work on To My Children from creating ink drawings, watercolours and a manuscript. Eventually, it has evolved into a short film, documenting harsh realities in a sort of poetic way, but also incorporate strong narrative elements, as it follows my “journey”. By turning my pictures into a film, I hope to convey the message, which I believe is as relevant as ever, to a broader audiences. 

I believe that the poetic expression in the colorful watercolors, in contrast to monochrome ink drawings, works well for this project: communicating stories from war and escape, but also about loss and future hope. Through my pictures montaged to contemporary music and special sound design I tell my life story to my children and unborn grandchildren.
Although, the primary themes of To My Children are war events, it also explores deep questions about democracy, religion, freedom of expression and humanity. One of the central motives for making this film is to contribute to public discourse, addressing topics that are relevant to today's political and humanitarian challenges.

Equally important to me in my work are the issues of dual national identity and integration into a new life and culture. I ponder what the future holds for my young children - will they be accepted as Norwegians, Kurds, both, or indeed, will there be any need to define them at all? To My Children focuses on the intersection of all these themes through the narrative. 

I hope To My Children will create emotional experience for the viewers, and shed new light on the crisis the world faces today, as a result of IS attacks on the lives and liberties of millions of people. I truly believe, that this short film will start a crucial dialogue about current world conflicts.

To My Children is my artistic contribution to the fight against war and terror.