Peace on the Tigris

- The Iraq War and 10 Years of Life in Baghdad -

Continuing his decade-long relationship with Iraqi civilians, a journalist questions the Iraq War by unveiling the reality of the war through the lives of the people.


In this film, the scars left after 10 years of the Iraq War are exposed through the lives and voices of the citizens of Baghdad.
After a decade since the beginning of the Iraq War in March 2003, more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have become victims of the war. Freelance journalist Watai Takeharu, who had been reporting on war from the civilian point of view in East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq, entered Baghdad 10 days before the invasion by U.S. forces on March 20, 2003. While covering the U.S. armed forces control and occupation, religious rivalry and terrorist bombings, he met with Iraqi citizens. In 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2013, Watai visited Iraq to continue interviewing and building friendships with the local people. Some 200 hours of footage on the Iraq War was recorded by Watai.
In 2013, a decade after the Iraq War, peace and order in the city of Baghdad seems to have been restored and the economy revitalized. However, from the citizens’ perspective, deep scars still remain on the country. People that Watai were able to meet again and those he could not: Through the images, words and experiences of these people spanning 10 years, Watai reveals the aftermath and the reality of the Iraq War.

Story

The Tigris River, which was the site of the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, still flows majestically through Baghdad, Iraq’s capital.

In March 2003, the area around this river underwent intense airstrikes by U.S. and British forces. The U.S. armed forces gained control of Baghdad. Journalist Watai Takeharu witnessed the moment when the bronze statue of then-president Saddam Hussein was pulled down. The next day he saw many victims of the airstrikes at a city hospital. There he met 31-year-old Ali Saqban, whose home had been destroyed in the bombing. In his arms he was carrying his 5-year-old daughter Shahad, whose body was covered with blood. In the course of following Ali’s life, Watai learned that a new daughter, Fatima, had been born in 2004. Even while the war continued, Ali held on to a small hope. But tragedy struck again.

In 2006 Ali’s younger brother Rahed was shot and killed over religious rivalry.
And in 2008 Ali was attacked in front of his food cart by an armed group and was shot to death at the age of 36. 9 months after Ali’s death, his son Yusef was born. Ali’s wife Rosha took her children and returned to her parents’ home. In 2013 only Ali’s aged parents were left in the Saqban household. His father softly muttered, “If permitted I want to die now and be reunited with my sons.” And then he told Watai, “Please remember about us forever.”

Some people survived and many died after 10 years of war in Iraq. With only photographs in hand, Watai Takeharu returned to Iraq to search for the people he had previously encountered — both those who survived and those who did not.

Trailer

Director’s Motivation

From 1997 Watai Takeharu worked as a freelance journalist reporting on the Sri Lankan civil war, East Timor struggle for independence, the war in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. As a video journalist, he covers the news and shoots video footage by himself using a small camera. Although there are a lot of media and cameramen who report on war, instead of focusing on the war itself or international politics, Watai takes the perspective of the citizens who have been attacked and killed. Many people may think that the Iraq War that began 10 years ago is already over or that only terrorist bombings happen frequently. What did the Iraq War bring to Iraqi citizens? Watai searched for the people he had met 10 years ago to see what had happened to them, how they survived and how they died. Through the lives of these citizens, the director wanted to uncover the reality and question the Iraq War once again.

Biographies

WATAI Takeharu - Director

Watai Takeharu has had a two-decade career in video journalism as an independent journalist. Watai specializes in covering conflicts in the Middle East and other parts of the world and has been reporting on the Iraq War since 2003. He has made numerous video reports and documentaries for television. Watai received the 2003 Vaughn-Ueda Awards Special Prize for outstanding international reporting. His previous film “Little Birds” , which portrays the lives of people in Iraq during the war, was awarded the Human Rights Prize in the Locarno International Film Festival 2005.

WATAI Takeharu Web Journal
http://www1.odn.ne.jp/watai/

Little Birds
http://www.tongpoo-films.jp/littlebirds/eng/index.htm

KONISHI Haruko – Producer

Konishi Haruko planned and produced “The Documentarist” TV series on documentarists such as Tsuchimoto Noriaki and Kuroki Kazuo, as well as “The Big House” which is a record of children growing up at the foot of Mt. Hayachine in Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan.
In 2003 Konishi planned the documentary “Little Birds” with Watai and after ten years she produced this “Peace on the Tigris” .
As a director, she films ”Akahama Rock’n Roll” that depicts man’s pride as they live with the sea, grateful for its blessings, which is supported by Agency for Cultural Affairs in 2014.

YASUOKA Takaharu – Postproduction Producer

Yasuoka Takaharu is a documentary producer and an editor. He has produced many documentaries with independent directors such as Mori Tatsuya, Hirano Katsuyuki, Watai Takeharu, Matsubayashi Yojyu, Fujiwara Toshifumi and Omiya Koichi. He is well-known as the producer of Sion Sono’s “HEYA THE ROOM”. Yasuoka is a professor of documentary film at the Japan Institute of the Moving Image.

TSUJII Kiyoshi – Editor

He graduated from the Japan Institute of the Moving Image and started his career as an assistant editor of "Little Birds" and co-editor of "GHADA-Songs of Palestine" and "NAKBA". As main editor, he worked on many documentary films such as “Flowers&Troops”(2009), “Ashes to Honey”(2011), “What we saw Gaza “(2011).

Credits

Japanese title: Iraqi Tigris ni Ukabu Heiwa
2014/Japan/108min./HD/English subtitle

Director: Watai Takeharu
Producer: Konishi Haruko
Postproduction Producer: Yasuoka Takaharu
Editor: Tsujii Kiyoshi
Production company: So-net Entertainment Co.

Asian Side of the Doc 2014 BEST ASIAN PROJECT
http://www.sunnysideofthedoc.com/asianside/projects-programmes/awards/

Tokyo docs 2013 Outstanding Pitch
http://tokyodocs.jp/2014/en/about_td/past.php

Contact

Konishi Haruko
Haruko.Konishi@so-netme.co.jp
So-net Entertainment Corporation
Think Park Tower 10F, 2-1-1 Osaki, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 141-6010 Japan

 

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