France Télévisions has ordered a four-part docuseries that will delve into the past 40 years of conflict in Iraq, with distributor ZED already securing a raft of pre-sales.
Iraq, Destruction Of A Nation (4 x 52 minutes) is being produced by French prodcos Tohubohu and Slug News and uses newly declassified documents and testimonies from witnesses to document Iraq’s history since its war with Iran in 1980.
The series will track events through to the fall of ISIS in 2017 and explore the current situation, featuring interviews with US politicians including Paul Wolfowitz and former French president François Hollande.
Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and Doug Feith, the under secretary of defence for policy during George W. Bush’s presidency, will also feature.
Jean-Pierre Canet is directing the series, which is set to premiere in November. ZED has struck pre-sales with Histoire in France, Germany’s ZDF, Radio Canada, NRK in Norway and Swiss pubcaster RSI.
Tohubohu was founded in 2018 by acclaimed filmmakers Stéphanie Schorter, Romain Icard, Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai, while Slug News was launched by writer-director Marina Ladous and Lorenzo Benedetti, drama producer and the founder of Studio Bagel.
Chloé Persyn-Preljocaj, head of sales & acquisitions at ZED, told TBI that the show would focus on the experiences of those affected by the conflict.
“Beyond the journalistic and historical rigour of our series, we will keep the audience in suspense embracing the codes and mechanisms of drama and a serial structure, with dramatic tensions, twists, suspense and so on.
“This will be anything but a cold reading of history. We will linger on the lived experience, emotions, and the details which will give depth to the narrative.”
Persyn-Preljocaj added that the series “will give the public keys to understanding the current situation and how we got here, looking back for the first time over 40 years of history.”
Access to some interviewees took more than 12 months to secure in some cases, added Romain Icard, Tohubohu producer.
“We worked in the same way with all our interlocutors, namely a full transparency regarding our intents and the questions we wanted to ask them. For some of them, it took us more than a year to convince them, but we excepted and anticipated it. We also felt that time had freed the speech somewhat and that most of them wanted to explain their roles in the events.”
ZED specialises in documentaries and is led by Manuel Catteau, with a catalogue of 1,200 hours that includes shows such as Hitler Youth for National Geographic in the US and Living Universe for streamer CuriosityStream.