From the 2003 US invasion to the infiltration of Daesh, war narratives about Iraq continue to eclipse an epic event that remains largely unreported in the west. Each year, more than 25 million people from all corners of the world flock to Karbala, Iraq, to participate in a pilgrimage known as Arbaeen. This event occurs 40 days after the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Husayn, who was massacred - along with a small number of companions and family members - by an army of 30,000 in the year 680. The Arbaeen pilgrimage commemorates the triumph of love and truth over tyranny and falsehood.
Through 360° video, spatial audio and first-person narratives, we meet pilgrims and hosts who have set out to embark on this sacred 50-mile journey. Each segment covers one day of the trek from Najaf to Karbala where Husayn is buried. Along the way, we encounter lovers as they assemble tents and tables to provide food, tea, massages, medicine, wifi, sleeping mats and prayer space to fellow travelers - all for free. Some share personal stories of inspiration; others offer their take on the social and political implications of Karbala. Why have they come, and what does this walk mean to them in the world today?
Many hands around the world made this work possible. Thanks to Najaf TV, the Shrine of Imam Husayn, the Shrine of Imam Ali, Caravan 72 and all the pilgrims and hosts who opened their hearts and homes to us.
AMY CLAIRE NELSON
Director, Writer, Producer
Amy Claire Nelson is a filmmaker and instructor of digital storytelling at UNC's School of Media and Journalism. Her work has been recognized by various national and international film festivals and news organizations including SPJ, RTNDA, AP, Alliance for Women in Media Foundation and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Broadcast News Awards.
SANA FATIMA ALI
Assistant Camera, Graphic Designer
Sana Ali is a Los Angeles-based VFX artist and graphic designer. She has worked on media such as Agents of Shield, West World and the Netflix movie, Bright.
Translator, Assistant Camera
Mustafa Al-Ma'amori is a teacher and translator based in Baghdad, Iraq.
KETSA // DOMINIC GIAM
Dominic Giam is a UK-based composer whose clients include Volvo, Audi, National Geographic, Arezzo, Forbes, Felss, Konami, Riachuelo and mode.com