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

2015, 79 mins, 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 hidden history.  To find out more, Majid makes a bold journey from Australia to Israel, Europe and Iraq to meet Iraqi musicians, hear their music and stories, and unite them in a concert for peace and reconciliation.

*  Featuring: Majid Shokor, Ahmed Mukhtar, Yair Dalal, Farida and the Iraqi Maqam Ensemble. Editor: Lucy Paplinska, Production Co-ordinator: Merran Williams, Cinematography: Sander Snoep, Philippe Bellaiche, Peter Zakharov, Hayder Daffar, Sound: Jan Wouter Stam, Tully Chen, Bob Phelps, Richard Merrick

* BEST DOCUMENTARY, Baghdad International Film Festival
* AUDIENCE CHOICE, Arab Film Festival, San Francisco/Los Angeles
* FINALIST, BEST DOCUMENTARY, Social & Political Issues, ATOM Awards, Australia
* BEST DIRECTOR, DOCUMENTARY, Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival


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Screenings & Awards


BEST DOCUMENTARY - Baghdad International Film Festival

AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD - Arab Film Festival, San Francisco & Los Angeles

FINALIST, BEST DOCUMENTARY, Social & Political Issues - ATOM Awards, Australia

BEST DIRECTOR (DOCUMENTARY), Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival



Montreal World Film Fesitval, World premiere

Baghdad International Film Festival

Global Peace Film Festival, USA premiere

Arab Film Festival, San Francisco & Los Angeles

Jewish International Film Festival, Australian premiere

Boston Jewish Film Festival

Ahbab Festival, Cambridge, UK

Washington Jewish Film Festival

Re-Orient, Stockholm, Sweden

New York Sephardic Film Festival

St. Petersburg Arab Film Festival, Russia

Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival

Krakow Festival of Jewish Culture, Poland

Los Angeles Sephardic Film Festival


Upcoming screenings

Academy Cinema, Auckland, NZ - June 10, 2017

Mercury Cinema, Adelaide - June 10, 2017 (hosted by ALCASA)

Bijou Cinemas, Eugene, OR - June 15, 2017

City Lights Cinema, Florence, OR - June 19, 2017

NW Film Forum, Seattle, WA - June 24 & 25, 2017

Pickford Film Centre, Bellingham, WA - June 27, 2017

Cineblend Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam - June TBA

Iraqi Cultural Festival, Sydney - July 1, 2017

Council of Christians and Jews, Melbourne - August TBA

Two Rivers Iraqi Cultural Association, Glasgow - TBA


Previous screenings

Magnes Museum, Berkeley, CA, USA
JW3 Community Centre, London, UK
Iraqi Association, London, UK
Karim Wasfi Center for Creativity, Peace Through Arts, Baghdad, Iraq
New Haven Public Library, Mid-East Film Series, New Haven, Conn, USA
Temple Beth Israel, Eugene, OR, USA
Lido Cinema, Hawthorn, Vic - 3 week season
Cameo Cinema, Belgrave, Vic
Mornington Cinema, Mornington, Vic - for Amnesty & Refugee Council of Australia
Mercury Cinema, Adelaide, SA - for Graham Smith Peace Foundation
Theatre Royale Cinema, Castlemaine, Vic
Star Cinema, Eaglehawk, Vic - with Rural Australians for Refugees
Gemco Theatre, Emerald, Vic - for Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Initiatives of Change, Toorak, Vic
Longplay, Fitzroy N, Vic - for Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

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Read archived news


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Music clip

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Magnificent!  A rich array of personalities and music. - ABC Radio National

A much needed film that crosses boundaries, uncovers hidden story, and brings home universal truths
Arnold Zable, author 'Violin Lessons', 'The Fig Tree', 'Jewels and Ashes' and many others.

Riveting, moving, joyful and sad. Everything rang so deeply true – Anna Epstein, Curator and Editor

This re-examination of Iraqi-Jewish heritage unearths vital history – Deana Nassar, Artistic Director, Arab Film Festival

A nuanced and sympathetic view of the deep, intertwined roots of Muslim and Jewish people in Iraq – Kelly DeVine, Artistic Director, Global Peace Film Festival

Excellent! A fabulous story of cultural resilience and identity – Robyn Sloggett, Professor and Director, Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, University of Melbourne


On the Banks of the Tigris to Deliver Hidden History, Daily Emerald, 18 November, 2016

Hidden Story of Iraq's Music Hits Big Screen in Bendigo, Bendigo Advertiser, 21 May 2016

Songs of Sadness, Songs of Love: Marsha Emerman's 'On the Banks of the Tigris', Metro Magazine Issue 188 (2016), by Brian Yatman

The Jewish Origins of Iraqi Music, ABC Radio National interview with Marsha Emerman and Majid Shokor on 'The Drawing Room, 29 February 2016

Iraqi Doco to Screen at Cinema, Progress Leader, 23 February, 2016

Tracing Iraqi Music Roots Ranges Trader, 23 November 2015

Hidden Origins of Iraqi Music, ABC RN interview on 'The Music Show', 8 November 2015

Forgotten Origins of Iraqi Music Celebrated in Award-Winning Doco
The Age, 30 October 2015, by Michael Dwyer

Documentary traces the forgotten history of Iraqi music
The Conversation, 30 October 2015, by Robyn Sloggett

The Hidden Story of Iraqi Music Review, Middle East Monitor, 2015, by Emanuelle Esposti

Iraqi Music and Peace Film Finished  AJDS News, December 2014

Remembering Baghdad, Arab Review, by Siba Aldabbagh, 2012

The Ballads of Baghdad  Australian Jewish News, 10 October 2008

Harmonies in Old Iraq   The Age, 22 September 2007

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Click to Enlarge

Ahmed Mukhtar (visit website)

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Yair Dalal and Majid (visit website)

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Farida Mohammad Ali (visit website)

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Abraham Salman

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Alber Elias

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Elias Shasha

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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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Read a full list of links

This film was developed with the assistance of Film Victoria and funded with the assistance of Creative Partnerships Australia, Documentary Australia Foundation and the San Francisco Film Society.   Thank you to: Australian Communities Foundation - Dennoch Fund,  Harold Mitchell Foundation, Shark Island Documentary Fund, Graham Smith Peace Foundation, Besen Family Foundation,  Finkel Foundation, Search Foundation, Annamila Foundation, Victorian Multicultural Commission, and many generous individual donors. 


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