Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji Iraq, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UK 103 mins M18 (Nudity and Sexual References) Southeast Asian Premiere
A young Iraqi rubbish picker finds an American sex doll, setting off a chain of events as he confronts fundamentalism and consumerism.
12-year-old As’ad survives by picking trash in the Hanging Gardens, a smouldering rubbish heap in Baghdad. One day, he finds a discarded American female sex doll. Enthralled by her, As’ad brings his new companion home but this provokes violence from his older brother. He returns to the Hanging Gardens for refuge and makes a home for him and the doll, who becomes a form of entertainment for the local boys. As’ad grows attached to her and names her Salwah.
Against the devastating colonial backdrop of the American invasion of Iraq, As’ad battles forces of fundamentalism and consumerism. Hanging Gardens is a haunting and meaningful tale of courage where one needs to do what it takes not just to survive but also to live.
Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji
Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji is an Iraqi writer and director whose films focus on the communities and politics in his home country. A Berlinale Talents alumnus, his past works include Children of God (2013) and Stray (2018), both about young children impacted by the Iraq War. Hanging Gardens, his feature debut, premiered at Venice.