TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


Daoud's Winter

Koutaiba Al-Janabi, Trent -

Netherlands, Iraq, France


Iraq, Winter 1988.

Daoud, a 22-year-old boy from Baghdad, whose parents fell victim to the Saddam Hussein regime, is sent to the front line of the Iraq-Iran war.

Since he knows how to type, he is assigned to a peculiar warehouse with an unusual mission. Cataloguing the new arrivals of dead bodies and organizing their transport to hell breaks his soul. Until he spots a live person lying among the bodies labelled “cowards” who will end up in the desert holocaust. He does not want to carry more guilt and decides to desert the army base to return the body of this soldier, named Ali, to his family.

It is a dangerous journey for Daoud to Ali’s family home in which he is hunted by the army being a deserter. During the trip the two men get to know each other and Ali becomes his friend until he finally dies.

Upon arrival Ali’s family welcomes him warmly but Daoud does not have the heart to break the bad news. While he keeps hidden in their home for the army, he falls in love with the people and finds the family he never had. In the meantime guilt is storming his mind and the army is on his heels, looking for him and Ali in the village streets.

When Daoud finally finds the heart to break the news to Ali’s mother, they decide to secretly take his dead body out to the garden at night, and silently start to dig.

They have lost a son. He has found a family, and is ready to move on.


The film is set in the early Eighties, in Iraq’s most difficult period. Our society suffered many wars, and no Iraqi family was left unharmed by the effects of War. This period has not been dealt with in films, these conflict-ridden, dark years in the country’s history, in the history of the Arabic world. The Iraq-Iran war, lasting 10 years, is a period that nobody likes to touch, since all those involved from both the Arabic world and other parts of the world gave money and support to one side or the other. Everybody had their reasons – but with no regard to the consequences and the victims of these long wars. They created fear, a vacuum of emotions. They destroyed families and society. The effect is still visible in the Middle East.

I would like to make a film that shows the consequences of these meaningless wars. The effects on the ordinary people, on the young soldiers, their mothers, the teachers, the small vendors, hence it does not show the front lines and the battles and weapons but the internal conflicts, the fear, the paranoia and grief that this situation caused to those trying to carry on with their lives in the country. The film is talking about life and death during this period, about the injustice that marred society and the internal conflicts.

One of my objectives is to portray the importance of friendship, of people pulling together in great difficulties. The difficulties suffered from the wars build further tensions and hatred, which results in an explosion of emotions. After the 10-year-long Iraq-Iran war, the period of this film, the war with Kuwait followed – lasting two years, and ensued with years of sanctions, which ultimately lead to the events of the past few years. The country has never had time to heal. People turned to fundamentalism to find answers. The power that holds a nation together has vanished, and I intend to represent this power, and its importance for society.

Now we have a story about reality. There are many stories in the Middle East that can tell the truth, it cannot be hidden forever. It is about Iraq without oil and fundamentalism. There are ways that bring us together that we may never see. Connecting us with people and places we never expected. Places like fear, time of war, strong friendship.

We are at the beginning of the end of fundamentalism – the value of Daoud as a pure, honest person, the friendship, is again rising in the Middle East. There is hope.

budget & financing

OAK Motion Pictures is an independent film production company established by producer Trent and later joined by director/producer Charlotte Scott-Wilson. Since their inception, they have produced and co-produced a number of awardwinning short and feature films. The project Daoud’s Winter has undergone initial script development through Interchange 2013 and FrameWork. The project has received development support from Creative Europe, SANAD, Hubert Bals Fund, the Dutch Film Fund and the Dutch Film Institute, which has lead to a final draft of the script. The total budget will be € 1.295.000. Shooting will take place in Jordan (although Spain, Lebanon and Turkey might be optional partners for parts of the film) with at least 35 shooting days. Currently we have attached Olivier Thiery Lapiney and Laurence Blanc from Alcatraz Films as the French co-producers and we aim to set up the film as a co-production between the Dutch, French, Middle-East and a third European partner. Local applications from the production companies will be done in the end of 2015. If the majority of funding is in place, we will apply to Eurimages to complete our financing plan. Preliminary casting research and location scouting has begun. We are looking to work with international talent and crew from the co-producing territories. We are currently looking to secure another coproduction partner, possibly UK, Croatia and/or Slovenia or Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden or Greece, and an international sales agent to get on board during the production stage.

distribution & sales

Director Koutaiba Al-Janabi’s previous work has already acquired international recognition in prestigious film festivals and shows a strong personal voice, an outstanding visual style, a keen observation on human psychology and accessibility in storytelling, making him perfect for this personal film. Daoud’s Winter will be positioned as a dramatic period film with suspense, horror and action. An accessible film of great international relevance by an emerging filmmaker. It is expected that the film will premiere internationally at renowned festivals such as Cannes or Berlin, before continuing on to premiere in the co-production countries. Primary target audience: men and women from 40+. Secondary target audience: mainly men, young adults from 20-35. And also specific niches such as the Middle-East second-generation communities all over Europe. The film has strong Unique Selling Points. For instance Daoud’s Winter is one of the few movies with an Iraqi point of view about the war, but it is also a war movie without seeing the real war. More importantly it shows the struggle of people who are involved in war and their relatives. Because of this, it not only relates to the Iraq-Iran war but can be referred to wars all over the world as well. At last the characters in this story are very rarely seen in movies, the Iraqi draftees in the Eighties, and the period of the history of Iraq, which we still know very little about, is quite exclusive in this movie. With the right festival and successful distribution we believe that this film, this topic, this story and this director is able to unite Europe and the Middle East.

During the Iraqi war a 22-year old soldier deserts his army base to return the body of a survivor to his family’s home.
Koutaiba Al-Janabi

Scriptwriter, Film Director

Trent -


production notes

directed by
Koutaiba Al-Janabi

produced byOAK Motion Pictures (F.K.A. NFI)
Jacob van Lennepkade 334P
1053NJ, Amsterdam

in co-production with
Alcatraz Films – France

total production budget
€ 1.295.000

current financial need
€ 960.000