MY ENEMY, MY BROTHER
CANADA 22 MIN
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 meet again by sheer chance in Canada. Considering the recent coverage of the Middle East this emotional documentary story of Najah and Zahed is a surprising affirmation of humanity that cuts across political borders.
Multiple award-winning director, producer and principal of Fathom Film Group. With 19 years of experience, she has produced independent feature films, feature documentaries and delivered hundreds of hours of programming that have aired on CBC, TVO, CBC Newsworld, Discovery Channel, HGTV, History Channel, SLICE. Her latest cross-platform project The Defector film and interactive was selected into 20 international film festivals, and was nominated for 6 awards, winning Best Documentary and Best Documentary Director at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. The Defector Interactive won the FITC Award, the Canadian Digi Award, and at the SXSW Interactive Festival. She is currently working on several feature documentaries and cross-platform projects: 4 Fridges, Smart Drugs, and My Enemy, My Brother which was selected for the Arte France Prize Pitch at the 2014 Power to the Pixel Forum in London, England and was selected into the Tribeca Film Festival and Hotdocs Film Festival and will be given an Oscar campaign by the New York times OpDocs.
- Tribeca International Film Festival, USA 2015
- Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival, Canada 2015
- Sheffield Doc/Fest, UK 2015
- Guanajuato International Film Festival, Mexico 2015
- IDFA Amsterdam, Netherlands 2015
- Best Short Documentary at Iranian Film festival, 2015
- Best Short Documentary at Traverse City Film Festival, USA 2015
- Best Short Documentary at PromoFest, Spain 2015
- Vancouver International Film Festival, Canada 2015
- Washington West Film Festival, USA 2015
- One World Film Festival, Chech Republic 2016
- Ottawa International Film Festival, Canada 2016
- Shortlisted for the Oscars 2015
When I first met Zahed Haftlang and Najah Aboud in Vancouver back in 2012, they seemed like any other Middle Eastern immigrants settling into new lives: Zahed was working as a mechanic, while Najah ran a small furniture moving company. But when I sat down with them over cups of mint tea to listen to their story, I was moved to tears. I’ve been helping them tell it ever since.
Zahed Haftlang was only thirteen years when he joined Iran’s Basij regiment to fight in the Iran-Iraq War. It was the most brutal war of the latter 20th century - where more than 100,000 child soldiers were sent to the front lines and chemical weapons were used for the first time since World War I.
Few people have the opportunity to live through a miraculous moment, but Najah and Zahed’s ongoing story continues to surprise and inspire. This short documentary follows their journey. And I have continued to document the two men as their story goes on. In the coming months, each plans to return to the Middle East to search for remnants of the life he left behind. Zahed wishes to see his father, who now has brain cancer. And having finally received his Canadian citizenship, Najah plans to go back to Iraq to search for his son and wife, whom he has not seen since leaving for the war.
To me, their story transcends the cascade of often negative news coverage coming out of the Middle East. Against the backdrop of conflict in the region, the story of Najah and Zahed is a surprising affirmation of humanity that cuts across political borders.
Short Competition 2016