Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (INSO) Documentary

It was achievement enough that the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra managed to survive the darkest days of the war, when it struggled for supplies and electricity when its members fled for safety abroad and those who remained practiced in secret for fear of offending militants who considered music un-Islamic.

They’ve survived bombs, random attacks and power failures during performances – which puts our worries about the role of the arts in perspective.

The INSO Documentary has participated in several international film festivals in different countries and was a real competitor to other major participated films from around the world, the results were awarding the INSO documentary film some awards from those international film festivals and praised by others, the film participated in international festival such as CFA – California Film Awards, CIFF – Canada International Film Festival, BIFF – Baghdad International Film Festival and PPIFF – Phnom Penh International Film Festival:

INSO Documentary International AWARDS



Award Of Merit 2018 – Impact Docs Awards

Official Selection 2014 – Phnom Penh International Film Festival

Silver Award Winner 2012 – California Film Awards

Rising Star Award Winner 2013 – Canada International Film Festival

Jury praising winner 2013 – Baghdad International Film Festival

INSO Documentary page on IMD:

Official INSO Documentary Website:

The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, which established early in the forties of the last century, and because of the unstable situations that occurred in Iraqi since then, the INSO have faced a lot a lot of problems and obstacles and because of its members love to the classical music it wouldn’t stay alive till now. The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra is considered as the oldest Orchestra in the Arab world, where it’s beginning was in the forties of the last century.

The Orchestra’s journey wasn’t perfect like the other Symphony Orchestras, or at least it wasn’t a normal journey, as it always been facing difficulties because of the unstable political and social conditions during many decades ago. So, what were the obstacles encountered by the INSO? was it able to survive and evolve? what was the position of the successive Governments of them? and what was the fate of its members? I don’t want to talk more about the film, but to those who would have the chance to attend any film festival, I strongly encourage them to watch this film on theater.

يتكلم الفيلم عن اقدم فرقة سمفونية في الشرق الاوسط، والتي تشكلت في بداية الاربعينيات من القرن المنصرم وبسبب الاوضاع الغير مستقرة التي حصلت ومازالت تحصل في العراق منذ ذلك الحين تأثرت وتعثرت الفرقة السمفونية الوطنية العراقية وواجه اعضائها الكثير من المصاعب وبسبب حب اعضائها لها كان من المستحيل ان تصمد الفرقة وتكون موجودة الى يومنا هذا. الفرقة السمفونية الوطنية العراقية تعتبر اقدم اوكيسترا في العالم العربي، بل في الشرق الاوسط حيث تكوينها في بداية الاربعينيات من القرن المنصرم.

مسيرة الفرقة السمفونية الوطنية العراقية لم تكن مثالية كمثيلاتها من فرق الاوركسترا في دول العالم، او على الاقل لم تكن مسيرتها طبيعية فمسيرتها لطالما كانت متعثرة بسبب التغيرات السياسية والاجتماعية خلال العقود الكثيرة الماضية. فما هي هذه الصعوبات التي واجهتها السمفونيه؟ وماذا كانت مواقف الحكومات المتتاليه منها؟ وماذا كان مصير عازفيها؟

This is the Official Film Poster for the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra Documentary:

Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra INSO 2018

After six months of continuous working the film finally was completed, I mean the INSO (The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra) documentary film which took all my time in those tough months as this film has participated in International Film Festivals.

I did my best in every part of the work starting from the screenplay and commentary scripts, to the lighting, videography, montage and editing, sound mixing and fixing, color corrections and special effects, directing, poster designing, translation and subtitling and many other small things that you may find in the INSO film website.

ستة اشهر من العمل المتواصل على مدار الساعه، واخيرا اكتمل الفيلم الوثائقي، وهنا اقصد الفيلم الوثائقي (الفرقة السمفونية الوطنية العراقية) الذي اخذ وقتي كله في تلك الفترة الزمنيه الكبيرة حيث شارك في مهرجانات دولية .

لقد فعلت ما بإستطاعتي واعطيت الكثير من جهد وتركيز ومتابعه وبحوث كثيرة ابتداءا من السيناريو وكتابة التعليق، الى الاضاءة والتصوير، المونتاج وتعديل الالوان، مكساج الصوت والمؤثرات الخاصة، تصميم البوستر وموقع الفيلم، تحويل الافلام القديمة وتعديلها ، تعديل الصور القديمه وجعلها ملائمه وبجودة عاليه ، اعداد الحوارات وادائها ، ناهيك عن اخراج العمل ككل ..


During the interviews shooting period, there were a lot of national power shutdowns, as this is the situation in Iraq.

There were a lot of noises and distortion because of the house power generators and big area generators that provide the power when the national electricity is down, getting those noises from the interviews was like hell.

A lot of shooting delays occurred because of the electricity shutdowns even when the power generation was there because sometimes the lighting becomes fluctuate and shooting an interview was impossible.

Another obstacle raised up during the interviews preparations which are the transportation, facing lots of lots of traffic jams caused by military checkpoints even on the highways.

And the security situation takes a big part in the hard times, any time, anywhere we expect an explosion or machine gunfights.

Putting in mind that most of the INSO members I interviewed were living so far away.

To take a closer look at the film’s content and observing how the INSO documentary is telling a story of the Iraqi symphony during their journey in several decades of unstable occasions I am sharing with you some snapshots from within the film to give you that impression.


The scenario and voice over scripts were written and prepared by Firas Sameer after a very long time studying, reading and researching paper books and over the internet regarding the Iraqi society and the INSO.


All Interview footage and many concert rehearsals plus behind the scenes in addition to parts from a couple of new concerts were shoot by Firas Sameer.


Lighting was done by Firas Sameer


All editing and montage including the color corrections and special effects were done by Firas Sameer.


All background music was done and composed by Laith Sameer.


Mixing all the audios including the corrections of some noisy tracks because of the environments were done by Firas Sameer.


Omer Al-Sarrai participated in this documentary by taking the commentary part.


Commentary voice-over recordings done by Laith Sameer.


The old images and photos corrections.

DVD authoring and poster design.

Converting the very old VHS tapes into digital, hence making it most clear as possible.

Editing and coding the film website.


The film produced by Babylon Gate Films and directed by Firas Sameer.


> Laith Sameer for his continuous support during the shooting times, also for creating the film soundtracks and using his studio to record the voice of the commentary.

> Flemming Weiss Andersen for providing some footage of after 2003.

> Camille Kitt: Harpist and Kennerly Kitt: Harpist for providing a couple of harp playing video shots by them.


The Music in Old Iraq – written by Dr. Subhi Anwar Rashid.

Study of The Nature of The Iraqi Society – written by Dr. Ali Al-Wardi.

Online Wikipedia

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