In the Shadow of the Palms—Iraq
AUSTRALIA / 2005 / Arabic, English / Color, B&W / Video / 90 min
Director, Photography, Editing, Producer: Wayne Coles-Janess
Production Company, World Sales: Ipso-facto Productions
Spring 2003, four weeks prior to the attack on Iraq. The people of Baghdad go about their daily routines despite knowing that America will soon begin its offensive. A former Olympian, now operating a parking garage, passionately teaches wrestling to children. Old men engaging in a lively conversation at a cafe, a middle-aged shoe store owner, a college professor and a Palestinian interpreter. Their thoughts and perspectives on Iraq and the world at large differ, but the start of the bombing at once alters each of their cheerful attitudes. In a world engulfed by a storm of propaganda, this director illustrates his firsthand account of Iraq.
[Director’s Statement] It was 2002 and Ipso-facto Productions had just finished the documentary, Life at the End of the Rainbow. We had been working on a documentary set in the Middle East and in December 2003, with the world gearing up for war, we decided to set one part of the production in the little understood and little exposed Iraq. The only information presented in the West were news grabs of agitated people waving AK-47’s in the air screaming, “Jihad, Jihad, Jihad!”
It took months and frequent interstate trips to finally secure visas to Iraq. We spent about four weeks filming there during the lead up to the war. Although short of funds and tape stock, I decided to stay on during the initial “Shock and Awe” period. Despite harassment by the Australian government and funding agencies we returned to Iraq to document the lives of the characters that we had met.
We could have had made a more emotional or sensational film for audiences, but we strongly believe that documentaries are required to be truthful and to document people and situations for all of humanity.
We at Ipso-facto Productions are committed to giving voices to stories that need to be told.
We at Ipso-facto Productions specialize in telling those stories that can’t or won’t be told.
Wayne Coles-Janess is a producer, writer and director of documentaries and dramas. Works include Bougainville—“Our Island, Our Fight,” Life at the End of the Rainbow, which aired on ABC’s prestigious TV series “True Stories” (Australia), and On the Border of Hopetown (drama), which won awards at numerous international film festivals. He has supplied programming for the BBC, Channel 4 (UK), CBC (Canada), NHK (Japan) and ABC Network (USA). He has also photographed and reported for Time Magazine, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and National Geographic Magazine.