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People’s Light is thrilled to present the exclusive streaming release of the film adaptation of Heather Raffo’s 9 Parts of Desire. Nearly 20 years ago, the stage production premiered to widespread acclaim in London and Off-Broadway, becoming a global theatrical phenomenon. Now, Raffo adapts her multi-award-winning solo play about Iraqi women for the screen and for our current time. From Baghdad to Flint, Michigan, Raffo transforms into a wide cross-section of Iraqi women in her inspiring exploration of love and grief within countries undone by division, violence, and loss. The film event is co-produced by People’s Light, Detroit Public Theatre, and Eyes Up Here Productions and is available to stream at peopleslight.org January 30 through February 12 ahead of its national release on PBS this spring. Tickets are $25, including fees. To purchase streaming access, call 610.644.3500 or visit peopleslight.org .
Uprooted after her father’s death during the pandemic, an Iraqi-American woman attempts to grieve at the site of the oldest Iraqi Church in North America. What starts in profound isolation becomes communal as Iraqi women, ordinary and extraordinary, come to her in spirit and ancestry with their personal stories of love and resilience. Together, they offer a celebration of the Iraqi female experience and an explicit warning—the divisions Iraq endured are not unique, Iraq is a bellwether for America now.
The film’s upcoming national release will mark 20 years since the start of the Iraq War. When discussing how reflecting on the anniversary of the invasion resonates with her, Raffo says, “I cannot help but see parallels to the polarization sweeping Western democracies, including our own between then and now. Politically, the fabric of the Middle East has changed, national identities have largely morphed into sectarian ideologies.”
The other piece to the “why now?” puzzle can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have entered a new time, where the pandemic has directly impacted every community across our nation,” says Raffo. “We’ve lost more to COVID than all our nation’s wars combined, yet we’ve not come together in a collective act of national mourning. I believe artists will help hold all that we are culturally carrying in our hearts and help re-calibrate our emotional availability to each other.”
The collaboration between Raffo, People’s Light, and Detroit Public Theatre began during the initial few months of the 2020 shutdown when Zak Berkman, Producing Artistic Director at People’s Light and long-time collaborator and friend of Raffo’s, presented the idea of re-staging the play at People’s Light to film and stream in 2021. After a series of conversations, they agreed to make a new film adaption of the play.
“I consider Heather Raffo one of the most captivating and brave actors of my generation,” shares Berkman. “Her play 9 Parts of Desire is a towering achievement in feminist theatre, political theatre, solo theatre, and theatre of all kinds. There aren’t many silver linings to this ongoing pandemic, but the opportunity to collaborate with Heather in this way and share this newly conceived film version of 9 Parts with our audiences, is top among them.”
Raffo’s original stage production of 9 Parts of Desire has been hailed as: “an example of how art can remake the world” ( The New Yorker ); “powerful, impassioned, memorable” ( The New York Times ); “exquisite, passionate, and penetrating” ( Los Angeles Times ).
9 Parts of Desire is written by Heather Raffo, who also stars in the film. The film is directed by Mike Mosallam, produced by Nilou Safinya, and executive produced by People’s Light Theatre, Detroit Public Theatre, Eyes Up Here Productions, and Bill Martin. Cinematography by Sherri Kauk and edited by James Codoyannis and Janna Emig.
9 Parts of Desire is digitally streamed for $25 at peopleslight.org with an online account. Once purchased, the film can be enjoyed by everyone in the household anytime, any number of times from January 30 through February 12, 2023. Click here for more information about streaming digital content.
Recommended for ages 12+ for mature subject matter.