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Hello! This is Juan David, director, producer and editor of the films “Unbroken Paradise” and “An Iraqi Belly Dancer.” To learn more about our films, scroll down the page to watch our trailers and read more about the films.
After months of arduous work, the films "Unbroken Paradise" and "An Iraqi Belly Dancer" have been successfully finalized!
The public reception of our films have been beyond positive. So far, our film "Unbroken Paradise" has screened independently in theatres and/or venues in the U.S., Colombia, and France. This year, it also screened at the Global Impact Film Festival in Washington D.C., and will screen worldwide at the prestigious 2018 Global Migration Film Festival organized by IOM, the United Nations Migration Agency. And finally, next year it will also screen at the Amnesty International Human Rights Film Festival (Festival Amnesty International Au Cinéma pour les Droits Humains) in France. The film "An Iraqi Belly Dancer" has also fared quite well. On April it screened in London at the East End Film Festival and on September, it screened at the Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival in Chicago. This year of 2019 it screened at the Phenicien International Film Festival in Lyon, France, and it will screen in India at the Kashish Mumbai Queer International Film Festival and in South Korea at the 7th Diaspora Film Festival.
These films on the first place would not have happened without your support. Some of you already contributed to my Kickstarter campaign in 2017 to collect funds to produce a couple of short films addressing the pressing challenges facing refugees in Europe today. However, at this moment we are still collecting donations so that we may continue maintaining our web site, sending our film to more film festivals, renting out venues in order to continue screening our films independently at cinemas worldwide, and to attend these film festivals.
The refugee community is one I hold very dear. So, 30% of your donation will go towards helping a refugee!
With your donation you'll also receive a private link so you can watch our films!
Alright! The festival round is finished. Pretty soon, I'll be releasing these babies out into the world 🎞🎥 Although I will happily continue to accept requests for screenings, I am officially not participating in more film festivals and will be releasing the films to the public pretty soon. So, stay tuned! 🎬
Much has been accomplished in the past couple of years since I started this journey. If you told me in 2017 when I began shooting my first short documentary film and later in 2018 when I finished the second one that I would be screening them all over the world, I would not have believed it. But that is exactly what I was able to accomplish! ✊🏾
Through film festivals and independent screenings, we've had the chance to show my first film “Unbroken Paradise” in 19 countries and 14 French cities with organizations such as IOM/United Nations (UN) and Amnesty International. My second short film “An Iraqi Belly Dancer” screened in the U.K., India, South Korea, the U.S., here in France--and for the first time in Paris in September of 2019!
I've said this before on previous posts and I'll repeat it, the work of communicating these stories for me is so important, because now more than ever, it's crucial to hear these stories and to understand the plight of the migrant and of those forced to leave their countries.
I am truly blessed for every single person who has contributed to my projects and given my stories a platform to educate others on how to be more compassionate and understanding towards migrants.
More than anything, I am grateful to Ramman Ismail and Hakim, who were brave enough to share their story with me and in turn, with the world. They were also instrumental in everything that has been accomplished thus far.
I'll be announcing release dates soon, but in the meantime browse through this page to learn more about my films!
About The Films
An Iraqi Belly Dancer
Short Synopsis: An Iraqi LGBT refugee who is also a belly dancer escapes his country and moves to Greece, seeking safety from a family who wants him dead and hoping to find a home that will grant him a life in peace and tranquility.
Language: Arabic | Subtitles: English, French and Spanish
Running Time: 18 minutes
Full Synopsis: In Iraq a family is like a tribe," says Hakim, the subject of this documentary and an LGBT refugee who escaped Iraq in 2017 on a dinghy from Turkey onto Greece. At the time he was running away from his family, who was persecuting him and had previously assaulted him because of his sexual orientation.
It all started with a video of Hakim that was posted online of him performing belly dance at a private party. That's how his family found out about him being gay and at that point, "Anyone from this tribe had the okay to kill me. They could throw me, slaughter me, strangle me, and no one would have a problem with that."
Since he was a kid, Hakim dreamt of becoming a belly dancer. However, he faced many challenges. For one, a man performing this type of dance is taboo, and so is being gay--not simply in Iraq, but worldwide--which means everything about this art form and the community associated with it exists there only underground.
Hakim lived in a country where he was in danger for being who he was and wanting to pursue his dreams. So he left.
However, in Greece, the story hasn't changed much. Except now he gets assaulted not only for being gay, but also a refugee. The Europe he saw in his dreams was not the Europe he found when he finally made it to Athens.
The story of Hakim is one of sorrow, loss, and the struggle to restart from scratch and alone.
Hakim came into my life while I was volunteering in a refugee camp in the island of Chios in Greece in 2017. A Belgian friend of mine told me about him and I immediately became captivated by his story and his life.
It wasn't long after that that Hakim was performing a belly dancing show for us after agreeing to be filmed. Fast-forward to 2018 and I can't be more grateful for having had the opportunity to share Hakim's story--one that is current and so important in these trying times.
I sincerely hope his life and his struggles will inspire others not simply to help Hakim and others like him, but become more aware and appreciate the life they have been given.
An Iraqi Belly Dancer SCREENINGS:
"An Iraqi Belly Dancer" has screened at London's East End Film Festival 2018 as part of the New Queer Visions: The 36th Parallel, an LGBT section of the festival featuring LGBT short films from the Middle East. On Sep 29, it also screened at the 36th Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival. In 2019 it screened at the the Phenicien International Film Festival in Lyon, France, and it will screen in India at the Kashish Mumbai Queer International Film Festival and in South Korea at the 7th Diaspora Film Festival.
Short Synopsis: A refugee of the Syrian Civil War flees to France, hoping to reconstruct his life after the war and become a professional architect in his new home.
Language: French | Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Italian
Running Time: 25 minutes
Full Synopsis: A universal story of migration, exile, In 2014 Ramman Ismail, a refugee of the Syrian Civil War, fled his country and moved to Lyon, France. Ever since, his life has been a struggle for survival in finding a new home and going against the odds to succeed and become an architect.
Before the war, Ismail lived in the suburbs of Aleppo with his family. On December of 2010 the Middle East was engulfed in a series of uprisings that became known as the Arab Spring. People in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and others, ousted their leaders, demanding democracy and freedom. In 2011 the country of Syria saw protests as well. But the regime and its leader, Bashar al-Assad, retaliated, plunging the country into a civil war.
According to the U.N., the conflict has internally displaced 6.6 million people up to date and an estimated 5.1 million have fled the country, taking refuge in countries like Turkey (3.3 million), Lebanon (1 million), and Jordan (655,000).
Another 996,204 have taken refuge in Europe (primarily in Germany, Sweden, Hungary, Austria, Netherlands, Greece, and Denmark), often making the dangerous journey through the Mediterranean Sea, by land through Turkey or Jordan, or by plane onto Europe.
Ismail is one of such refugees who, against all odds and challenges, left his motherland for a better life and a brighter future in France. Quickly, he is showing the world he is not simply a refugee, but a human being with the capacity to dream and fight for his paradise.
“Unbroken Paradise” is a universal story of migration, exile, and the struggle to stay afloat, even when the world wants to bring you down. In 2014 Ramman Ismail, a refugee of the Syrian Civil War, fled his country and moved to Lyon, France. Ever since, his life has been a struggle of survival in finding a new home and going against all odds to succeed and become an architect. I met Ramman at an anti-Assad political protest he had organised and immediately his energy and passion stole my heart. For me, he represented the image that I wanted to capture of many of the Syrian refugees I met during my time living in France—hard-working people with an incredible desire to survive and restart against all improbabilities. Ismail is one of such refugees who, against all odds and challenges, left his motherland for a better life and a brighter future in France. Quickly, he is showing the world he is not simply a refugee, but a human being with the capacity to dream and fight for his paradise. I want to share his story, not simply because it’s current and universal, but ultimately also positive. I hope Ramman’s story will open people’s eyes and have an impact on them the way Ramman’s story has impacted my life.
Unbroken Paradise SCREENINGS:
"Unbroken Paradise" has screened at the Global Impact Film Festival in Washington D.C. and it has recently been selected to screen at this year’s Global Migration Film Festival organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Migration Agency. In 2019 it also screened at the Amnesty International Human Rights Film Festival (Festival Amnesty International Au Cinéma pour les Droits Humains).
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"An Iraqi Belly Dancer" has screened at the East End Film Festival in London and Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival. In 2019 it screened at the the Phenicien International Film Festival in Lyon, France, and it will screen in India at the Kashish Mumbai Queer International Film Festival and in South Korea at the 7th Diaspora Film Festival.
"Unbroken Paradise" has screened independently in theatres and/or venues in the U.S., Colombia, and France, at the Global Impact Film Festival in Washington D.C., and will screen at this year’s Global Migration Film Festival. In 2019 it also screened at the Amnesty International Human Rights Film Festival (Festival Amnesty International Au Cinéma pour les Droits Humains)
If you are a film festival or a humanitarian organization wishing to screen this film, please use to Contact Form to reach out to us.
Thanks to our supporters!
Thanks to our Kickstarter supporters for contributing and believing in these films. You are the reason projects of the cinametic arts like this one are able to happen in the first place, and we wouldn’t be where we are today if it was not for you. So, Merci!
Elise Bruno, Giorgos Apostolopoulos, Liz Krulder, Christophe Clémencet, Naureen Farook, Vanessa Flebbe, Euan McKay, Sharon Weaver, Carla Schaffer, Ana Romero, Anthony White, Julia Parnell, Camilo Romero, Auréliane Dor, Bruna Moscol, Michelle Chabrun Gasq, Camille Menard, Ducasse, Juan Romero, Charlayne E. Grenci, Ph.D, Etienne Boteron, Elise Bruno, Juan Quezada, Lila Lou, Irene Arnulf, Eamonn Gormley.
Juan David Romero
Before filmmaking, Romero worked as Communications Officer at AAAS doing animation, writing, photography, and video production/editing in Washington D.C. He’s currently based in Paris, France, where he works as freelancer with Médecins Sans Frontières.
Most recently he worked on-the-ground and remotely with various refugee-aid organizations in Greece and France documenting the experience of refugee migrants from Syria and other nations through short videos. On his free time he also contributes his video editing skills to the U.N. as an acting volunteer.