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TV Iraqi Style

Documentaries

TV Iraqi Style


(for full film, please contact paul.eedle AT outtherenews.com)

For 20 years Saddam Hussein was omnipresent in Iraq not least on television, which was dominated by his image. Output was strictly controlled, programmes heavily censored and satellite TV banned.

Under these conditions, viewers were force-fed a strict, bland diet of programmes. But with Saddam out of the picture, TV audiences in Iraq are being treated to a veritable feast of viewing choices. There has been an explosion in satellite TV ownership and homegrown Iraqi stations are flourishing. Viewing figures are booming, thanks to night curfews and a population too afraid to leave their homes: a captive audience hungry for entertainment.

Gone are the propaganda broadcasts of old, replaced with Iraqi soap operas, game shows and reality TV. This film follows the new celebrities such as Majed Yassin, a popular comic actor whose common touch has allowed him to connect with the Iraqi public in a massive way and Presenter Shaima Zubeir whose maternal approach has led to her being dubbed the 'Oprah of Iraq'.

Filming behind the scenes of the country's most popular show, Iraq Star: Iraq's own version of Pop Idol.

TV Iraqi Style tracks the progress of one young contestant Marwa Ahmed. Marwa is one of two remaining female contestants battling to secure a place in the final show, which is to be hosted in Beirut.

The new TV stars are benefiting from high salaries and fame but they face the same difficulties and dangers as any Iraqi civilian: filming is disrupted by security threats and electricity rations and just travelling from A to B can mean risking your life. Iraq Star contestant Marwa decided to start wearing her hijab midway through the show, as she believed she was putting her life at risk by wearing high heels and makeup.

And as TV Iraqi Style followed the filming of a drama series it became apparent that one of the lead characters has disappeared. The production crew later discovered that he had been arrested and was being questioned by the Iraqi police.

The TV new shows also offer more than just glitzy light entertainment. The homegrown soaps reflect the unique struggles Iraqis face on a daily basis and help provide Iraqis with a sense of identity.

One of Shaima Zubeir's programmes Labour and Materials is a property makeover show with a difference: all the homes selected have been bombed and over the past two years Shaima and her crew have rebuilt six houses and restored families to their homes.

TV Iraqi Style provides a unique insight into post-Saddam Iraqi society through the television programming and the struggles facing Iraqi production crews.

TX More 4 January 2006