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Iraq N' Roll

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Iraq N' Roll

(Doc, 52 min. miniDV/DVD, 2011)
  • Written and Directed by: Gili Gaon
  • Produced by: Dani Haimovich - Station Films Ltd.
  • Sponsored by: Israel Channel 2, Gesher Foundation, Avi Chai Foundation
  • Language: Hebrew & Arabic with English subtitles


In this intimate and poignant film about family, culture and identity, filmmaker Gili Gaon follows popular contemporary Israeli rock musician Dudu Tassa as he embarks on a deeply personal journey to reconnect with the musical legacy of his grandfather, Daud al-Kuwaity.  Daud and his brother Saleh – the al-Kuwaity Brothers –,  Jewish musicians who lived in Iraq in the 1930’s, were the most celebrated  musicians and composers of their time, often performing in the court of the King, and are still considered to be the creators of modern Iraqi music.  When they immigrated to Israel in the 1950’s, however, their middle-eastern music was not embraced by the Western-oriented cultural establishment of the nascent state, and they became marginalized and almost forgotten.  On his moving quest to rediscover his cultural heritage through his grandfather’s music, Dudu decides to devote his next album to new and more contemporary reinterpretations of the al-Kuwaity’s works, creating a dialogue between the generations, and helping to restore this suppressed musical and cultural legacy to its rightful place within the rich and diverse tapestry from which modern Israeli culture and identity have been woven.



  • Best Documentary Award – Sole e Luna International Film Festival, Italy, 2012
  • Gold Remi Award – WorldFest Houston, USA, 2012
  • Special Ger Orchestra Award – Jewish Motifs International Film Festival, Poland, 2012


  • The Jerusalem Cinematheque, 2015
  • East Bay Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2013
  • Yerba Buena Center, USA, 2013
  • LA Sephardic Film Festival, USA, 2012
  • WorldFest Houston, USA, 2012
  • Sole e Luna International Documentary Film Festival, Italy, 2012 – Official Competition
  • Warsaw Jewish Motifs Film Festival, Poland, 2012
  • Free Thinking Film Festival, Ottawa, Canada, 2012
  • Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2012
  • NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2012
  • New York Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2012
  • DocAviv Gallil, Israel, 2011
  • Vermont International Film Festival, USA, 2011
  • Seattle Jewish Film Festival, UAS, 2012
  • DocAviv Gallil, Israel, 2011
  • Calgary Jewish Film Festival, Canada, 2011
  • Jerusalem International Film Festival, 2011


  • Oregon Jewish Museum
  • Conference for Jewish Music & Identity – Youngstown University
  • Yale University
  • Smith College
  • University of California Santa Barbara
  • MESA Conference, 2013
  • Boston College
  • Amherst College
  • California State University
  • Library of Congress
  • Arizona State University
  • Maryland University
  • California State University
  • Duke university
  • UCLA
  • University of North Carolina
  • The College of New Jersey Library
  • University of Denver
  • University of Florida
  • Greenberg Public Library, Ottawa
  • Harvard University
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Columbia University
  • NYU
  • Syracuse University
  • Arizona State University

Press and Links


Can you yearn for something that you have never known? “I yearn,” sings Dudu Tassa, calling forth the voices of his family heritage from Iraq. By his side is musician Yair Dalal, moved to tears by the song, he says, “You’re killing me. How a song can kill you.”


The song was written by Saleh Al-Kuwaity, considered one of the leading composers of Arabic music in modern times. The scene is from Iraq ‘n’ Roll, a documentary film by Gili Gaon which premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival 2011. Contemporary Israeli musician Dudu Tassa encounters the Al-Kuwaity brothers and his family history through their music, creating a musical dialogue between the generations. Saleh and Daoud, Tassa’s grandfather, were celebrated musicians in Iraq. Yet when they immigrated to Israel in 1951, they remained on the margins of Israeli culture, performing at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, and operating a small store selling kitchen utensils in the shuk to eke out a living. Crushed by circumstances, they forbade their children to become musicians or even learn to play an instrument. How a song can kill you.

For the entire review by Ayelet Dekel/, check:


Iraq n’ Roll is a serious examination that follows contemporary rocker Tassa as he pieces together his forebears’ life stories—largely through conversations with relatives and others—and uncovers a half-forgotten archive containing their rare recordings, which later inspire his own innovative compositions.

For the entire review check:

Iraq ‘N’ Roll tracks charismatic Israeli rock musician Dudu Tassa’s search for his musical heritage and how he creatively channels the past through his contemporary beats.

For the entire review by Nora Lee Mandel/The Jewish Forward, check:

Ayelet Dekel review in

The Screening of IRAQ N' ROLL took place on Sunday. It was fantastic!!! We had a good-sized audience, and they totally LOVED the film! When it ended, there was a huge and very long applause. I saw lots of teary eyes and kleenex tissues.  And many people came up to me afterwards to tell me what a beautiful film it was, and how moved they were.  Gili Gaon's film is so well-made, that she draws the audience into Dudu Tassa's story, and creates a deep empathy with Dudu, his family and, especially, with the music itself. It was definitely a highlight of this year's festival.
Harvey Cyngiser - Director
Calgary Jewish Film Festival

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