Film Review: MY ENEMY, MY BROTHER (Canada 2017)

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The true story of 2 enemies from the Iran-Iraq war; one saves the other’s life on the battlefield, then they meet again by sheer coincidence 20 years later in Canada. Inspired by their …See full summary »


Ann Shin


Base on her short documentary about an Iraqi and Iranian who became good friends, MY ENMEY, MY BROTHER is an expanded full length feature that is a basically an enactment of the documentary.

The film tells the real-life story of two former enemies from the Iran-Iraq war who become blood brothers for life.  The film begins with Najah in his town of Basra in Iraq.  The camera pans to show the roads, vehicles and sights of Basra, a good educational experience for many who have never seen the sights of an Iarqi city.  The film traces the young Najah, falling in love and getting married with son in the sight of Allah.  But things turn bad.  The Iran-Iraq war led to him being imprisoned for 17 years.  Finally freed, he finds Basra totally destroyed and he is unable to find his wife and son.  Najah now lives in Vancouver.

The other characters in the film is Zahed.  When the audience first sees Zahed, he is a Iranian child soldier.  

Director Shin has her political say as well, blaming the Russians and Americans, the two countries that benefit monetarily from selling arms to Iran and Iraq.  Clearly as always, it is the individuals who suffer.

Najah and Zahed meet in Vancouver 30 years after Zahed, an Iranian child soldier saves Najah, a wounded Iraqi soldier’s life, they are now about to embark on an emotional journey back to Iran and Iraq for the first time in 20 years. The film chalks their journey takes them into the heart of present-day conflicts in a region ravaged by war and ISIS. Their quest is a surprising affirmation of redemption and humanity.

Najah and Zahed play themselves in this documentary which is really a series of re-enactments.  If the film starred actors instead, the film would be classified a non-fiction film instead.

But the film is till not without flaws.  Director Shin seems too intent to re-enact everything even Najah’s childhood.  The audience is not told how Najan and Zahed came to immigrate to Vancouver.

Nevertheless, the story is an extremely moving one and therefore makes the film compelling to watch.  The likelihood that an Iranian saves an Iraqi, an enemy is in itself slim and the fact that the two actually meet 20 years late and discover themselves is nothing short of a miracle.  The scene where Zahed has a meal with Najah’s family is nothing short of inspiring, demonstrating there is still good in human beings.



Special to the screening: War Games

Accompanying the theatrical release of MY ENEMY, MY BROTHER is the world premiere of EYE OF THE BEHOLDER a dramatic and spectacular 30-minute FREE VR experience made available in the lobby for all theatre goers prior to the screening. Set in a conflict zone, players encounter another soldier in a bunker who may be friend or foe. Whether the player decides to collaborate with or combat the other in the ensuing challenges, determines who gets out alive. This short VR experience questions how we pre-judge others, and is a teaser for a longer VR game that will be released later in 2018.

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