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Saddam's Mass Graves

World Premiere

Iraq | 58 MINUTES | Arabic, English |


Inspired by the examples of Cambodia and South Africa, where the uncovering of truths about previous atrocities led to a process of reconciliation, the Iraqi Kurdish filmmaker Jano Rosebiani returned home just before the outbreak of war in 2003. A few years earlier he had made the only fiction film about Saddam Hussein's 1985 chemical attacks on Kurds in Halabja. The goal of his present film was to document the discovery of mass grave sites, over 200 of which have been uncovered in the past year, a number now cited as the largest in the world. Apart from his use of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam commonly engaged in the mass burial of civilians, many of whom were interred while they were still alive. With the goal of setting the record straight about the collective suffering of Iraqis, Rosebiani interviews coalition officials, human rights representatives, and survivors. He notes, "I believe the scar that has been inflicted on the people of Iraq is the common denominator that should bond all Iraqis to work together to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again."


Directed by Cory Concoff and Jano Rosebiani

Jano Rosebiani was born and raised in Zakho, in the Southern region of Kurdistan. Under Saddam's tyrannical regime, Rosebiani's family joined the Kurdish mass uprising and took to the mountains, later becoming refugees in the U.S. During his college years, he made experimental videos for public access television. His feature debut, Dance of the Pendulum (1995), is a low-budget comedy parodying sexploitation in Hollywood. Jiyan (Life, 2002), his first Kurdish film shot in the U.S./U.K. protected region of Southern Kurdistan, depicts life in Halabja following Saddam's chemical and biological attack that took 5,000 lives. Jiyan toured festivals worldwide, winning the Special Jury Award, New Director's Showcase, at the 2002 Seattle International Film Festival, the Best Film "Man and his Environment" Award at Portugal's 2002 International Film Festival, Festroia. It also received the 2002 In The Spirit of Freedom Award, In Memory of Wim Van Leer, at the 19th Jerusalem Film Festival.