Baghdad is hosting its first international film festival in two years in a sign that its shattered cultural life is slowly reviving with improving security and a relative ebb in violence.
With peace as its main theme, the four-day festival, which is organized by the Association of Iraqi Filmmakers Without Borders, opened at Baghdad's Palestine Hotel on Wednesday, according to media reports.
As many as 63 films will be competing for the awards with Iraqi filmmakers participating with 21 films and documentaries.
Some of the Iraqi entries depict aspects of sectarian violence and the consequences of the US-led invasion in 2003.
Filmmakers from 12 countries were keen to have their works screened at the festival, which was last held in 2005. Still fazed by Baghdad's lingering notoriety as a hotbed of violence, many of them stayed away.
However, the festival's organizers rolled out a red carpet for their guests who came to Baghdad, including filmmakers from seven Arab countries.
The festival was not held in 2006 because of an alarming security situation that has significantly improved this year with the enforcement of a security crackdown in Baghdad since June.
Iraq's film industry, dating back to the 1940s, was at its height in the 1970s. But the following decades of wars and international economic sanctions slapped on the former regime left the industry in tatters.
TAGS: Middle-East Safer Baghdad hosts film festival