An Iraqi Belly Dancer, Unbroken Paradise
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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.

An Iraqi Belly Dancer SCREENINGS:

"An Iraqi Belly Dancer" has screened at London's East End Film Festival as part of New Queer Visions: The 36th Parallel, an LGBT section of the festival featuring LGBT short films from the Middle East.


Unbroken Paradise

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 SCREENINGS:

Although "Unbroken Paradise" has not screened at any festivals yet, it has screened independently at local venues, such as University of Miami in Coral Gables, United States; Austin, Texas, United States; Cinespiral in Manizales, Colombia; Lyon in France; and Bordeaux in France.


"An Iraqi Belly Dancer" has screened at the East End Film Festival in London and "Unbroken Paradise" has screened independently in theatres and/or venues in the U.S., Colombia, and France. 

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.

Juan David Romero

Juan David Romero

Before filmmaking, Romero worked as Communications Officer at AAAS doing animation, writing, photography, and video production/editing in Washington D.C. 

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.