About Oxymoron Films

By the time she set up Oxymoron Films in 1993, Maysoon Pachachi had worked as an editor for many years on TV dramas and documentaries. It was the Gulf War of 1991, which galvanised her, like so many other Iraqis living in exile around the world. Every night on TV there was the spectacle of ‘smart bombs’ blowing up bridges and the green tracery of anti-aircraft fire over Baghdad’s skies. In the thousands of hours of media coverage, you rarely saw one ordinary Iraqi person or heard anything about who they were or what was happening to them; as if the whole country was empty and there was only Saddam Hussein. It was as an objection to this erasure of the existence of people and their lived experience that IRAQI WOMEN: VOICES FROM EXILE was made and Oxymoron Films was set up.

The subject matter may differ, but all of Maysoon’s and Oxymoron’s documentary films have in common a drive to let people tell their own stories and to depict them not as victims only, as so many well-meaning films do, but as complex, often contradictory, individual human beings, who may be caught up in difficult circumstances. There is a commitment to listening, to patience in finding resonances and connections, to not imposing a false and overly tidy, ‘coherent’ narrative on the reality being filmed – and to not forcing a spurious sense of drama. The films are often, at the same time, collective and individual stories.

Most of the films produced by Maysoon and Oxymoron Films have been documentaries dealing with stories from the Middle East, and several have focused on the lives of women there. The company was not, however, set up only to make films about the Middle East, or only documentaries and has developed several other documentary projects, which were to be shot in the southern USA, Bangladesh, China and Brazil, as well as a feature project to be shot in London within the immigrant communities.