On the Banks of the Tigris: the hidden story of Iraqi music

(2015, 79 min feature, HD, stereo, Producer/Director: Marsha Emerman)

When Majid Shokor escaped from Iraq he discovered that the songs he loved as a child in Baghdad have a surprising hidden history.  To find out more, Majid embarks on a bold journey from Australia to Israel, Europe and Iraq to meet top Iraqi musicians, hear their music and stories, and unite them in a concert for peace and reconciliation.


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View Trailer

To view this 2 minute trailer click the play button.

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Tigris World Premiere Screening in Montreal, Canada

On the Banks of the Tigris will have its world premiere screening at the 39th Montreal World Film Festival (Festival des Films du Monde) in Canada, August 27 - September 7, 2015.  The goal of the festival is “to encourage cultural diversity and understanding between nations and foster the cinema of all continents.” https://www.facebook.com/FFMMontreal


Our project has been selected for MATCH funding

Great news! Our film is now supported by Creative Partnerships Australia through MATCH. Donate by May 25th, 2015 and every dollar you give will be doubled!! Amounts over $2 are tax deductible. Please go to: https://australianculturalfund.org.au/…/on-the-banks-of-th…/ Your donation will support public and community screenings, film festival entries, and our program to promote peace in the Middle East.


On the Banks of the Tigris is a finished feature film!

We're thrilled to announce that our documentary 'On the Banks of the Tigris' is FINISHED!!! Thanks so much to everyone for supporting us to complete this film. Now please help to get the film seen everywhere. To donate: https://australianculturalfund.org.au/…/on-the-banks-of-th…/


Earlier News Items


June 16th Fundraising Concert with Kavisha Mazzella and Mesopotamia

We're delighted to announce a fundraising concert to support post-production costs of completing our film. Superb singer-songwriter Kavisha Mazzella and Middle East music group Mesopotamia will perform on Sunday June 16, 2:00 - 5:00 pm at the 60L Green Building, 60 Leicester St, Carlton.  Marsha and Majid will also present a sneak preview of scenes from the film, including clips from the Barbican Centre 'Banks of the Tigris' concert last September. For credit card bookings go to:   http://banksoftigris.eventbrite.com.au   To pay by cheque or EFT email: marsha@fruitfulfilms.com.au

Kavisha Mazzella is an Aria-award winning folk artist - powerful, haunting and totally captivating.  Her album, 'Love and Sorrow' won the National Fim and Sound Archive Award for Best Folk Relase of the National Folk Festival, 2011.

Mesopotamia is an exciting Middle Eastern ensemble who play authentic Iraqi music. Their innovative style synthesises Eastern and Western traditions and includes compostions by young, contemporary Arab composers.

Barbican Banks of Tigris Concert a Huge Success

Fabulous music, Majid's perfect hosting, and an enraptured audience made The Banks of the Tigris concert in London a great success. As UK musician and audience member Carol Isaacs said: 'What a wonderful evening! From the first word from Majid to the last glorious song, it was an uplifting and inspiring concert.  Can not wait to see the finished documentary. Congratulations to the organisers and performers.' To see photos from the rehearsals and concert visit:  http://www.facebook.com/OnTheBanksOfTheTigris


Tigris Film Project Brings Joy to Our Donors

'How absolutely fabulous what you're achieving!  We are thrilled to hear that you are being accepted both nationally and internationally, and by such a wide range of people and groups.  Huge congratulations to you!  Your project and your successes are giving us much joy.'  - Australian Communities Foundation - Dennoch Fund


Marsha and Majid Interviewed on Barbican podcast about the concert

Listen to the Barbican’s September podcast to hear Marsha and Majid talk about the Jewish role in Iraqi music and the wonderful Banks of the Tigris concert on September 27th in London.



Full House Expected At Barbican's Banks of the Tigris Concert

Tickets are nearly sold out for the Barbican' Banks of the Tigris peace concert on Sept 27th in London.  Thanks again to our many supporters, with special thanks to Fran Murrell, David Leece, and Dr. Naim Dangoor for helping us to film this fabulous event.  Thanks also to Chris Sharp, Music Programmer at the Barbican and to the wonderful musicians Ahmed Mukhtar, Yair Dalal, and Farida's Iraqi Maqam Ensemble who'll take part in this historic concert for peace and reconciliation between all Iraqis.


London's Barbican Centre To Host On the Banks of the Tigris Concert

On September 27, 2012 the Barbican Centre, London, UK will mount the Banks of the Tigris peace concert.  The superb Iraqi musicians Yair Dalal from Israel, Ahmed Mukhtar from London, and Farida’s Iraqi Maqam Ensemble from Amsterdam will all perform.  Our film's storyteller Majid Shokor will be the concert MC.

We will film this special concert and rehearsals for our documentary, to send a message of peace and reconciliation to audiences around the world.  The concert and our film will show how Iraqi music and culture crosses religious boundaries and expresses the aspirations of Jews, Muslims and Christians to live together in harmony, as they did for thousands of years.

We're very excited about this concert which fulfills our dream of bringing Iraqi musicians of all faiths together to perform in a top quality venue, with the support of a major arts centre.  Please support us to complete our documentary and to film this great event.

Banks of the Tigris now on Facebook and Twitter

Please join our worldwide network of friends and supporters by visiting our new Facebook page.   You’ll find the latest news, comments, and posts  (eg “so good to hear and see a story of beauty out of Iraq”). Please tick the “Like” box to show your support. Visit our Facebook page

For those of you on Twitter, we also now have a twitter feed at where you can keep up-to-the-minute with all the latest Tigris news: Follow us on Twitter

Tigris education program promotes peace

On the Banks of the Tigris is more than a film - it's an ongoing project to promote peace, cultural connection and community harmony.

The Tigris team (Marsha and Majid) visit schools, interfaith and community groups, where our talks and work-in-progress screenings create dialogue and discussion.  Our visits contribute to greater understanding of Iraq, the Middle East, and the humanity that transcends religious or political boundaries.

Groups we've met so far include: Australian Iraqi Forum, Sephardi Association of Victoria, International Pen, Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women's Coalition, National Council of Jewish Women, Melbourne University, Portland State University (USA), Mittleman Jewish Commmunty Center (USA), and many others.

We welcome invitations to screen and discuss our project.  For more information and bookings please contact marsha@fruitfulfilms.com.au


Tigris trailer a hit on YouTube

Over 22,000 views, 95% approval, lively discussion and lots of positive feedback have been generated by our online trailer.  Here are some of our favourite YouTube comments:
'Wonderful video.  This is a great project to keep music from one of the oldest civilizations being destroyed by war.'

'This brought a tear to my eye.  I was born in Iraq, left when I was just a kid, but I'll never forget that music.  I still feel all warm and safe when I hear it, it'll never stop affecting me.' - Mahal

'Iraqi people always identified themselves with their country, it was never about religion.' - rafid

'I'm muslim and i want to say that iraq is the country of muslim, christian, jewish and mandean, to live peacefully together and forever.' - zayoonah

'My grandmother always told me that Iraqi-Jews were so kind and good.  They were kicked from Baghdad and they still love Iraq!! Thx for the video.' - jamil

'Great idea to promote Iraqi plurality.  Music and arts are among the best components that promote peace among nations.' - maysaffar

Majid films in Iraq

Majid travelled to Iraq, where he and a professional crew filmed a wealth of new material.  It includes interviews (eg. with the legendary singer Afifa Iskander, now in her 90s), performances, lively scenes in Baghdad streets and teahouses, a boat tour on the Tigris river, and more! Here is his first-hand account:

'I'm very pleased to let you know that I finally made it back to Iraq.  It was an emotional time when I saw my family, who I hadn't seen for 15 years.  My mother, who didn't believe she would ever see me again after all we had been through, couldn't believe her eyes.  Amazingly, she, my sisters, brothers and their sons and daughters were all in good spirits.  It was strange to see my nephews and nieces, who were very little when I left, as fathers and mothers with their own small babies. That was a strong reminder of how much time has passed.

It was fascinating to listen to ordinary Iraqis tell their many stories of loss, despair, separation from loved ones, courage and hope.  Their determination to carry on and enjoy their lives was inspiring.

I was very excited that I was able to film in Baghdad.  I interviewed old and young musicians and music critics and filmed rehearsals and concerts of many groups, including a traditional Iraqi maqam singing group and the Iraqi Symphony Orchestra.  I came back with footage of cultural life in Baghdad, which has just started to get back to normal.

It was great to see lovers holding hands and strolling on the banks of the Tigris, the river that has witnessed so many stories of Baghdad and Iraqis.  In this time when a lot of people accept what they see on TV about Iraq, I was able to document another side to the life of Iraq and its people.  I hope the footage will give you an authentic image of Iraq today.'

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Music clip

To view this 3 minute trailer, click the play button.

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Iraqi Music and Peace Film Finished, AJDS News, December 2014

The Ballads of Baghdad, Australian Jewish News, 3/10/08

Harmonies in Old Iraq - The Age, 22 September 2007

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Ahmed Mukhtar (visit website)

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Abraham Salman

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Alber Elias

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Elias Shasha

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Yair Dalal and Majid (visit website)

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Farida Mohammad Ali (visit website)

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Majid films in Baghdad

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Iraqi Chanting Group

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Iraqi musicians in rehearsal

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Majid interviews Afifa Iskander

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Looking out on the Tigris River

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On the Baghdad booksellers street

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Click here to see a full list of links

This film was produced with the assistance of Film Victoria, the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Harold Mitchell Foundation, Shark Island Documentary Fund, Graham Smith Peace Foundation, Besen Family Foundation, Australian Communities Foundation - Dennoch Fund, Search Foundation, Finkel Foundation, and generous individual donors.


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