On Saturday 10 June 2017, ALCASA hosted the screening of the Award winning Australian documentary On the Banks of the Tigris: the Hidden Story of Iraqi Music. While waiting for all guests to arrive, we enjoyed Arabic coffee, Iraqi tea and home-made sweets donated by generous ALCASA members. We were delighted to have among our guests, Mrs Iraq Universal 2017, Roai Alanbari, and a number of Iraqi friends who were very happy to share, before and after the movie, their stories about their homeland. Check the event’s photos at ALCASA’s Facebook page Arabic In Adelaide.
Dr Minerva Nasser-Eddine, co-founder and member on ALCASA, introduced the movie in a thoroughly researched presentation. The movie retraces the journey of the narrator Majed Shokor who escaped from Iraq, and began yearning for the past and recalling fond childhood memories. During this journey, he discovered the songs he loved had a hidden story. Shokor travels around the world to meet exiled Iraqi musicians and organises a concert at London’s Barbican Centre where they all play and celebrate the Arabic music and songs they love.
For decades music, literature and art were a shared cultural heritage that flourished in the melting pot of Baghdad from the 1920s to the 1950s. The film explores the hidden history of Iraqi music and the cultural ties that still connect Jewish, Christian and Muslim Iraqis. As Majid Shokor aptly notes: “For Iraqis living in exile, these songs express our loss and longing for our homeland. ”
We were deeply touched by the movie’s story line. Many of us, had to leave our home countries looking for peaceful life. On The Banks of the Tigris depicted our struggle, always carrying our homeland within, no matter where we live now. Some of us are lucky enough to be free to move between cultures and geographical boundaries. Others are forcibly alienated from their own heritage. Despite the hurts and wrongs, Arts hold the key to transcend the experience, to unite us as humans.
We acknowledge the valuable support of the Minister of Multicultural Affairs, South Australian Government.
Fayrouz Ajaka & Minerva Nasser-Eddine