Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine

Once Upon a Time in Iraq

- AVAILABLE ON BBC IPLAYER REVIEW BY YVETTE HUDDLESTON

Directed by award-winning filmmaker James Bluemel, this powerful five-part documentar­y series is essential, if often harrowing, viewing.

Focusing on the background to, the reality on the ground and the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq War, it features not the politician­s responsibl­e for starting the conflict but ordinary people who had to deal with the consequenc­es of their decisions. These include Iraqi citizens whose lives were changed forever by the war in their country, losing homes and loved ones in the senseless carnage, the US soldiers of various ranks who had to carry out sometimes questionab­le orders from above and who also lost comrades, and journalist­s and photograph­ers who were covering events.

New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins and the freelance photograph­er Ashley Gilbertson who worked with him tell compelling stories of their time covering the violence and destructio­n, and the personal cost that goes with it, as does Waleed Nesyif, who was just 18 when the US invaded and he began working as a translator for foreign correspond­ents.

Bluemel is a quiet, compassion­ate listener, patiently waiting – with the camera rolling – as an interviewe­e lapses into silence, lights a cigarette or tries to compose themselves.

It is incredibly moving, shocking and sad to see, nearly 20 years on, the still raw effects of a war that, you could argue, should never have happened.

 ?? PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES. ?? WAR-TORN: Paradise Square in Baghdad showing the column from which Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled in 2003.
PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES. WAR-TORN: Paradise Square in Baghdad showing the column from which Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled in 2003.

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