Better Than Baghdad sweeps film festivals

The New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards announced yesterday: their Grand Jury selected Light House’s film Better Than Bagdad as winner of their Bronze World Medal!  This is the third-highest honor at the festival.  You can watch the short film here.

This is the 56th year of the New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards  and this year they received film entries from over 50 countries, making this one of the most well-known and widely respected film festivals in the world.  The lead filmmaker of this documentary is Light House student Reid Hildebrand and the subject is International Rescuee Committee participant, Majed Alsruar.

Hildbrand, who is now studying at Wesleyan University, is thrilled Better Than Baghdad won the Bronze World Medal – especially considering the strong competition from across the globe (other film finalists came from South Africa, India, Taiwan, and other countries).  Hildebrand says:


Better Than Baghdad turned out to be much more than a film – it opened a dialogue on a part of the world and a part of humanity that is underreported and misrepresented by the media and popular attention.  A dialogue not just between Majed and myself, but between Majed and everyone who chooses to watch this film.


Better Than Baghdad features Charlottesville teenage refugee Majed as he recalls a remarkable event in the refugee camp where he and his family lived for five years in the Iraqi desert before emigrating to Charlottesville, Virginia.  This film was a collaboration between Light House Studio and the International Rescue Committee and it was funded by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation – Community Endowment.  Harriet Kuhr, Executive Director of the IRC in Charlottesville, says:


We’re thrilled that Majed is able to share his story of living in a refugee camp with the world through the powerful medium of film.

We couldn’t agree more.  The student film crew also included writer Conor Kyle, sound and assistant cameraman Greg Nachmanovtich, and production assistants Elisha Courts and Mitz Germershausen.

More acclaim from film festivals

Better Than Baghdad has been entered into several other film festivals and results will be publicized in the coming months.  So far, the film is also a winner at the Virginia Student Film Festival in their Competitive Shorts program.  Better Than Baghdad and three other Light House films (Chouky, Last Day of May, and This is Your Life) will screen at this festival, held at the University of Virginia, on Saturday, April 13, 2013.If you have questions or comments, email

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