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




Montreal World Film Fesitval - Canada - World premiere

Baghdad International Film Festival, Iraq

Global Peace Film Festival - Orlando, FloridaUSA premiere

Arab Film Festival,  San Francisco & Los Angeles, USA 

Jewish International Film Festival, Melbourne & Sydney, Australia

Boston Jewish Film Festival, USA

Ahbab Festival, Cambridge, UK

Washington Jewish Film Festival, USA

Re-Orient, Stockholm, Sweden

New York Sephardic Film Festival, USA

St. Petersburg Arab Film Festival, Russia

Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival, Kathmandu, Nepal

Krakow Festival of Jewish Culture, Poland

Los Angeles Sephardic Film Festival, USA

Cineblend Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Shanasheel Iraqi Cultural Festival, Sydney, Australia

Rumman Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

Sonoma Jewish Film Festival, Santa Rosa, California, USA

Rutgers Jewish Film Festival, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival, Florida, USA

Maine Jewish Film Festival, Portland Museum of Art, USA

Firenze Archeofilm, Florence, Italy

The Archeology Channel Film Festival, Eugene, Oregon, USA

Adelaide International Women’s Film Festival, Australia.

Barcelona Jewish Film Festival, Filmoteca de Catalunya, Spain

Arkhaios Cultural Heritage and Archeology Film Festival, South Carolina, USA

Upcoming screenings

World Film Fair, New York

Nepal International Folk Music Film Festival


Previous screenings

Lido Cinema, Melbourne - 3 week season
New Farm Cinemas, Brisbane
Cameo Cinema, Belgrave, Vic
Mornington Cinema, Vic - benefit for Refugee Council of Australia
Mercury Cinema, Adelaide - hosted by Graham Smith Peace Foundation
Mercury Cinema, Adelaide - hosted by Arabic Language & Culture Association SA
Theatre Royale Cinema, Castlemaine, Vic
Star Cinema, Eaglehawk, Vic - with Rural Australians for Refugees
Academy Cinema, Auckland, New Zealand
Clinton Street Theatre, Portland, OR, USA
Pickford Film Centre, Bellingham, WA, USA
Northwest Film Forum, Seattle, WA, USA
City Lights Cinema, Florence, OR, USA
Bijou Cinemas, Eugene, OR, USA
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, CT, USA
Temple Beth Israel, Eugene, OR, USA
Gemco Theatre, Emerald, Vic - benefit for Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Initiatives of Change, Toorak, Vic
Sydney Jewish Museum
Longplay, Fitzroy North, Vic - benefit for Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Bialik College - Council of Christians and Jews, Melbourne
Spertus Institute, Chicago, ILL, USA
LINK TV - National Cable TV Broadcast, USA 

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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

Articles & Interviews

Iraq Music Brought to Life, by Kevin Liepins, Weekend Notes, October, 2017

Director of On The Banks of the Tigris is Coming to Eugene, Register Guard, June 9. 2017

Interview on KLCC, Oregon National Public Radio, with Marsha Emerman, June 14, 2017

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

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

Tracing Iraqi Music Roots Ranges Trader, 23 November 2015

Interview on ABC Radio National - Hidden Origins of Iraqi Music, 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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