Archive of films The First Movie / The First Movie

United Kingdom / Canada
2009, 75 min

Section: Focus on Kurdish Film
Year: 2013

Film enthusiast, director, and traveler Mark Cousins set out for the Kurdish village of Goptapa, the target of a 1988 chemical attack ordered by Saddam Hussein. He brought along a movie projector, three video cameras, and several classic movies. Sensitive to the situation, he gradually makes contact with the local kids and they tell him their wishes and memories.


This time around film enthusiast, director, and traveler Mark Cousins set out for the Kurdish village of Goptapa, Iraq, the target of a 1988 chemical attack ordered by Saddam Hussein. It’s the period of Ramadan so adults stay in their houses while kids are free to enjoy hanging out outside. Cousins brought along a projector, a few classic movies, and three video cameras. Sensitive to their situation, he then makes a real connection with the local kids, gradually getting to know their dreams, desires, and experiences, even those beyond the war. The director is also the guide to the film: he speaks to the kids and projects old movies for them, including Spielberg’s cult hit E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The filmmaker’s commentary serves as a near-constant backdrop as he reminisces about, among other things, his own childhood in Belfast. His sincere excitement and enthusiasm are palpable, and his film serves as a reminder of the fact that children are the same the world over, full of imagination, naivety, and wisdom.

About the director

Mark Cousins (b. 1965) is a Northern Irish filmmaker, writer, curator and traveler. The First Movie is his debut feature, prior to which he shot a number of films, including the medium-length documentary Another Journey by Train (1995) and the short films Ian Hamilton Finlay, In a Wee Way (1996) and 8 ½ (2006, codirected with Tilda Swinton). He is the author of various film essays and books: The Story of Film (2004), Imagining Reality: The Faber Book of Documentary (2006, with Kevin Macdonald), and Widescreen: Watching Real People Elsewhere (2008). For five years he directed and presented the BBC series on film Scene by Scene; he was also the director of the Edinburgh Film Festival. Last year we presented his 15-hour documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey as well as What Is This Film Called Love? This year the Karlovy Vary program will also feature his latest picture The Story of Children and Film.


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About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Focus on Kurdish Film
Director: Mark Cousins
Screenplay: Mark Cousins
Dir. of Photography: Mark Cousins
Music: Melissa Hui
Editor: Timotheus Langer
Producer: Gill Parry
Production: CONNECTfilm ltd
Contact: CONNECTfilm ltd


Mark Cousins

Film Director


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