Pictures From Iraq

From the success of Pictures From Afghanistan, David Pratt returns with Pictures From Iraq. He’s a photojournalist who has spent most of his career in the Middle East. He returns to speak to his contacts and fellow journalists there.

Pictures From Afghanistan felt very personal, it was a memoir of his experiences of the country. Pictures From Iraq is more an attempt to put the country itself at the centre, and have it more just be structured around David meeting up with his old contacts. There’s also a foregrounding of Iraqi journalists, of the people who are crucial to telling the story if you want to represent it with any accuracy. Whether you are seeing their work carried through the major media outlets, or just see how they have helped, informed, and contextualised information for non-native journalists, their impact is massive.

David is a photojournalist who has worked on the front lines of many conflicts in his time in Iraq. He’s mostly been based in the Kurdish region of Iraq, which is just a fascinating area. The situation is hugely complex, it would be impossible to cover everything in an hour-long documentary, but David does his best to sketch out the mix of cooperating and competing interests.

We visit an officer in the Iraqi-Kurdish peshmerga, Iranian-Kurdish female freedom fighters, and Iraqi volunteer forces. Together they have fought ISIS and sectarian extremists, but their differing causes could put them in conflict once those threats are defeated. Iraqis want a unified Iraq. The peshmerga want to maintain the status of the Kurdish Autonomous Region within Iraq. And the Iranian-Kurds want an independent Kurdish nation, comprised of the Kurdish regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. You can see how complicated that could get.

He speaks to Iraqi-Swedish journalist Urban Hamid, who he worked with back when ISIS were making strides across the country. They drink tea while looking out at the city, and discuss how the situation on the ground has improved, while still having its challenges. He meets up with Iraqi photojournalist Ali Al-Baroodi, who documented his home city of Mosul under ISIS occupation, at great danger to himself. He shares his hopes for the city, unbroken by a lifetime of war.

Really interesting documentary.