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My Enemy, My Brother


Zahed and Najah are two former enemies from the Iran-Iraq War who become blood brothers for life. 25 years after one saves the other’s life on the battlefield, they journey back into the heart of a region ravaged by war and ISIS.

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My Enemy, My Brother


Zahed and Najah are two former enemies from the Iran-Iraq War who become blood brothers for life. 25 years after one saves the other’s life on the battlefield, they journey back into the heart of a region ravaged by war and ISIS.

My Enemy my Brother_ [Robert Steel]_3.jpg

About


"Right away he changed into a human, not an enemy, not a killer. That’s what I was feeling, look like an angel coming to me now [and] coming with me in the bunker."

About


"Right away he changed into a human, not an enemy, not a killer. That’s what I was feeling, look like an angel coming to me now [and] coming with me in the bunker."

MY ENEMY, MY BROTHER is a feature length documentary about the real-life story of two former enemies from the Iran-Iraq war who become blood brothers for life. Meeting in Vancouver 30 years after Zahed, an Iranian child soldier saves Najah, a wounded Iraqi soldier's life, they are now about to embark on an emotional journey back to Iran and Iraq for the first time in 20 years.  Their journey takes them into the heart of present-day conflicts in a region ravaged by war and ISIS. Their quest is a surprising affirmation of redemption and humanity. 

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“He catched my hand from darkness, and moved me to light.
He was showing me the way"

News_index


“He catched my hand from darkness, and moved me to light.
He was showing me the way"

NEWS: Shortlisted for the Oscars!

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Monday, October 26

‘My Enemy, My Brother’ has been shortlisted for an Oscar by the Academy Awards!

The short documentary Oscar shortlist was announced by The Academy in a press release on Monday, October 26. The news about the ‘My Enemy, My Brother’ shortlisting has since appeared in Variety, CBC, The Toronto Star, 680 News, La Presse, and Playback.

 

Founders Prize for best documentary short

'My Enemy, My Brother' takes home the prestigious Founders Prize for Best Documentary Short at the Traverse City Film Festival! The award is juried and presented by Michael Moore and the TCFF board members.

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Awards and Screenings


Awards and Screenings


Screenings

Tribeca International Film Festival
Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival
Sheffield Doc/Fest
Guanajuato International Film Festival
IDFA - International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam
Iranian Film festival
Vancouver International Film Festival
Washington West Film Festival
One World Film Festival
Ottawa International Film Festival
St. John's Women's International Film Festival
Traverse City Film Festival
Al Jazeera Film Festival
Regent Park Film Festival
ReFrame Film Festival

 

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Director’s Statement


Director’s Statement


Director's Statement

The story of Najah and Zahed is singularly inspiring and continues to surprise us to this day. For a boy soldier to have risked his own life to save his enemy is incredible, but for them to meet again by sheer coincidence in a foreign country is downright unbelievable. And yet it happened. At the heart of this story is an affirmation of humanity that crosses religious and political differences. The film reveals this very intimate relationship between these two former enemies, and proves that healing and redemption are possible.

I first met Zahed and Najah in 2012. We were sitting down over cups of tea as they told me their stories. I thought it was going to be an hour or so, you know, you meet someone for a coffee... Well, I was with them for four hours that initial meeting, and I cried several times as they told their stories. They’ve had such harrowing journeys as soldiers and prisoners-of-war, then for them to miraculously meet again in Canada is a uniquely inspiring event. There is a message of hope and promise in their journeys and I really wanted to share it filmically.

When Najah got his Canadian passport and he decided to return to Iraq to search for his wife and son, we knew we had to follow him. Zahed too decided to try to go back to Iran--well, his decision was made for him when his father fell critically ill. I kept filming them as their journeys continued; their paths turned out to be remarkably similar.

There were so many twists and turns with this film. Zahed was concerned about being arrested if he re-entered Iran but he wanted to see his dying father, so he couldn’t decide whether to risk going into Iran, or to attempt to meet them in a third country. I followed him to Turkey, and also to a country neighbouring Iran and we ended up standing with him at the border of Iran across the fence at his hometown. With Najah’s search there were even more twists and turns. There were several different promising leads as to the whereabouts of his wife and son: his sister heard of a young man living in their old neighbourhood who was Najah’s spitting image; alternatively there was another young man, an adoptee who was found around the time Najah last saw his son. There were several different leads he chased, and we chased him on his quest.

Najah’s search reflects a poignant truth – more than 1 million Iraqis have gone missing due to decades of conflict in the region. It’s staggering to think that between the Iran-Iraq War, the First and Second Gulf Wars, and numerous civil conflicts including ISIS-led attacks, Iraq has been subject to continuous conflict for more than 30 years. There are many women with children whose fathers are missing. Families get separated as cities are ravaged by war and residents are moved to displacement camps. This is the daunting situation Najah finds himself in as he searches for his wife and son, his search for redemption really, in a country that has been plunged in war for decades.

What was moving to see was how Zahed and Najah helped one another on their journeys. At one point at the border of Iraq and Iran, these two men were at the nadir of their quests, and they way they supported one another helped them arrive at a place that was inspiring.

This is the kind of story that can only be found in a country like Canada. These two men from different Middle Eastern countries, were both received into Canada where they ended up living in the same city. Iraq and Iran were at war, but here in Canada they came to live as friendly neighbours working hard to put their past behind them. Moreover, by sheer coincidence they ended up going to the same counselling centre for victims of torture. Two war vets from opposing sides of the Iran-Iraq War, sitting side by side in a waiting room--that in a nutshell is one of the amazing things about Canada; you never know who you’re standing next to in an elevator, or who is cutting your hair at the salon, or who is behind the wheel driving the taxi (or uber). They might have been your enemy, but they are your friend, your neighbour, your brother.