Enlightening Entertainment
 
Iraqi Artists Association: Promoting the Beauty and Heritage of a Culture (In Arabic)      
Today’s Enlightening Entertainment will be presented in Arabic and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Thai and Spanish.

Artists are the cultural ambassadors who, through their works of art, can bring forth understanding, friendship, and peace among different Regions of the world. Of those who follow this calling, there is Weam Namou Yatooma, a poet and novelist; Amer Hanna Fatuhi, a visual artist and historian; Sahir Al-Malih, a radio and TV producer and publisher; Salah Kulato, a theater artist and director; Sonia Diri, an actress, Rev. Jacob Yassor, pastor of Reverend Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic Church, and more.

They are Iraqi-born but have journeyed beyond borders and traveled between continents. They seek to use their talent to bring harmony to this world. Enabling them to achieve this dream is the community they created, the Iraqi Artists Association based in Michigan, USA. Ms. Weam Namou Yatooma, co-founder and the president of Iraqi Artists Association (IAA), shared with us their history.

This association started in July of 2007. And it started because of some artists, Iraqi born artists, felt that there was a lack of community, not a lack of artists, a lack of community, a home where we can support each other’s work, more, and basically just work together. So about 3, 4 of us got together and we formed this organization.

The first meeting of the Iraqi Artists Association was held on August 22, 2007 in the Mesopotamia Art Gallery at Michigan, among gifted Iraqi artists, scholars, philosophers, writers and musicians. They would do all to let the public know of the beauty in the past as well as in the present of their homeland.

We have been doing various events at colleges and universities and libraries to show the Iraqi culture and to introduce people to a part of Iraq that we noticed most Westerners are not familiar with.

One of the Iraqi Artists Association’s major tasks is to restore the forgotten connection between ancient Mesopotamian civilization and Iraqi culture and society of the present-day. For example, Mr. Amer Hanan Futuhi, co-founder of the Iraqi Artists Association and Director of Mesopotamia Art Gallery, writes extensively on the native Iraqi people’s contribution to the human world in his book, “The Untold Story of the Native Iraqis.” Father Jacob Yassor of Reverend Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic Church compiles dictionaries to better understand humanity’s shared past in the land of Iraq.

Remember the biblical stories? Where Abraham and the creation, they mention two of the rivers of that paradise, Tigris and Euphrates. It was in Iraq, today they called Iraq, and I think the word Iraq is from Akkadian word of “Uruk,” which is an ancient city in that area, Southern Iraq, or Uruk or "Urka," in Arabic they called "Urka." Iraq is from that origin.

The first recorded writer in history was a woman from ancient Iraq. Her name is Enheduanna. She was a poet. That’s means a lot.

That’s basically the beautiful side of Iraq. And usually art is associated with beauty. Our hope is that we reach a much larger audience. And I think part of this desire comes from our love for our culture, for our heritage.

In January 2008, the Iraqi Artists Association collaborated with Mesopotamia Art Gallery and Madonna University to organize the first Iraqi Cultural Week in Michigan under the title “The Other Frontier of Iraq.” Opening the eyes of the public were book depots, poetry readings, exhibition of contemporary arts and a conference on Chaldean and Babylon civilizations in ancient Iraq. For many North Americans it was the first time to know the ingenuity of the native Iraqi people.

As I said previously, they discovered there were satellites and they divided the time into units, hours, minutes and seconds, into weeks, into months, a whole year. Well this was a work of Babylonians. Every time you can look to your watch, remember who made this twelve numbers, why twelve numbers. Today’s industry is built on wheel. Syrian Chaldeans invented the wheel…

Eight internationally renowned contemporary Iraqi artists were featured during the art tour at the Iraqi Cultural Week. The pieces included the stunning woodcuts and paintings of Burkan Saleh Kirkukly, the intriguing mixed medium pieces by Farouk Kaspaules, the gentle portraits by Paul Batou, the love of colors in the works of Nadwa Qaragholi and a lot more. Together, these works manifest the magnificent tradition of Iraq and the sincere, life-loving Iraqi people.

We will be returning shortly with more about the creative and constructive endeavors of the Iraqi Artists Association. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

Welcome back to Enlightening Entertainment as we continue our feature of the Iraqi Artists Association in highlighting the beauty and greatness of Iraqi culture. Music and performing arts add to the Iraqi Artists Association’s unique charisma. The traditional music band named Marhaba, or Welcome, re-introduces the Iraqi music tradition of 7,000 years of age to the contemporary world. The theater troupe also portrays Iraqi culture and society with their remarkable plays performed every year. The artists incorporate their personal memories and knowledge of Iraqi culture.

The Chaldeans, have really nice folk dances. They have very particular steps, and there are something very special about the people holding hands and dancing and sing with each other. And I feel like it really represents the culture of the Iraqis. There is such a unity there, whether it was with the dancing or with the home. Children don’t move out of their parents’ home until they get married, There’re so much caring and each person in the family carries so much responsibility that the child takes care of the parent, and vice versa, as much as they can.

It’s that family closeness, everything happens with family around, everything revolves around family. We make a big deal out of anything, a child being born, I mean, huge parties. That’s what it feels like over there, they just enjoy life so much.

Although I have been here in the US for 30 years I still remember many, many beautiful things about Iraq. I still actually live a very traditional lifestyle. And yet at the same time I really appreciate the American way of life, because it has brought out in me my work. There is so much encouragement when it comes to work here.

One special endeavor by the members of the Iraqi Artists Association is the newly completed film project presenting Iraqi people on the silver screen in a constructive light. Entitled “Green Card Wedding,” the film is a comedy featuring Iraqi men and women searching for the meaning of life and the meaning of their collective experience. Based on the short film originally made by Ms. Weam Namou Yatooma, this is the first Iraqi feature film that appeared in the US cinema world.

I went to film school, because I did want to reach the most audience possible. As a writer I felt that I will reach more people with my stories through the, through film. I ended up feeling like I wanted to work on the first Iraqi American film.

Ms. Weam Namou Yatooma has authored three novels, “The Feminine Art,” “The Mismatched Braid,” and “The Flavor of Cultures,” as well as poetry and articles for US and international journals. But she believes that to be able to direct her own film is important to keep her story true and close to the ordinary Iraqi people she wrote about. Artists and friends from IAA and beyond supported the film project, including Ms. Namou Yatooma’s own brother Mr. Adnan Namou.

One of the things that I think is the most important thing about the film is, it totally takes the light-sided heart of it. It sticks to how they live on a daily basis inside of the United States and still carry on their culture from their old countries, especially when it comes to religion.

Ms. Sonia Diri, who started acting since age 6 and has already started a great career in modeling and acting in Dubai and Lebanese cinema, declined many offers just to participate this film.

A lot of directors and producers want me to be in Dubai to do a movie or to do modeling. I say, "No, I want to do something for Iraqi, for culture, for my community, because I'm Iraqi."

The experience of making this film has expanded the talents and abilities of the Iraqi artists while bringing them closer together.

Well one thing I've learnt is that, wow, there're so many other people involved, these ideas just do not come from one person. You have to all bring it all together and put it into one. But it's unbelievable how many other people get involved and actually add, especially with their talents. .

Ms. Weam Namou Yatooma’s teacher at the Motion Picture Institute of Michigan, US film director Mr. Lance Kawas, has also collaborated enthusiastically in directing and refining the film.

Whatever Weam and I to do with this film, it will represent the Iraqi community in a very positive light, to bring a sense of culture and heritage and honor and respect to Iraqi women and Iraqi people in general. And that’s the main goal of this film and I hope we can do that.

Film is a beautiful medium if it’s done the right way. And this script has both the elements of drama and humour in a very real setting. And that’s what I like about it. And it’s also, the unique aspect of the Iraqi-American culture. And it’s a vibrant community, they have got lawyers, they have got accountants, they have got merchants. Their youth is a very passionate youth. I hope we can come together as a group and make this project really work.

Three years ago, the founders of the Iraqi Artists Association wrote these lines in their manifesto: “Artists, through the universal language of art, have an important role to play in our future.” “For artists, however, to use their utmost creativity, they need a home and a community that encourages their freedom of expression and provides them with support. This has been an objective of a number of Iraqi and Iraqi-American artists living in the United States (Michigan).”

In just three years, the Iraqi Artists Association has been more than a home and community; it is a beacon for promoting cultural beauty, harmony and peace in our world. Many thanks to the Iraqi Artists Association in this wonderful endeavor. May Heaven bless all involved with ever-greater success.

To find out more about the Iraqi Artists Association, please visit

Gracious viewers, it was a pleasure to have you with us today. Up next is Words of Wisdom, after Noteworthy News, here on Supreme Master Television. May your life be blessed with joy and goodness.

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