Documentary on cross-border smuggling – Iran-Iraq border (March 2013)


(Map taken from:

This documentary, recently proposed by the Iran-Israel Observer, shows interesting snapshots of the plagued everyday life led by the inhabitants of Iranian Kurdistan bordering Iraq.

Both women and men, constantly living in financial hardships, end up smuggling petrol across the border by carrying heavy tanks on their back, and sometimes even getting to destination without being able to negotiate for a good price.

In the third part of the documentary, the failure in asking the hand of a girl in marriage due to chronic poverty, reasserts the overpowering and bitter determinism of their life. The whole documentary seems to suggest that not in all parts of the earth there is room for deciding one’s own destiny.

The looming unpredictability of their journey disrupts their everydayness and highlights the paradox of being kept hostage by their only possible job: earning money by doing something illegal, therefore jeopardising their own life. The same life they had been trying to preserve.

Indeed, while watching the final scene, the spectator, arrogantly aware of her agency in the sordid dichotomy between empowered and deprived, is going to wonder: what is survival for?

(Estella Carpi)

Documentary: Cross-border Smuggling – Iran-Iraq Border


There are numerous documentaries that have been made on different aspects of life in Iran.

But I have not come across many which look at life outside Tehran.

The documentary below, filmed in Iran’s Kurdistan province is very interesting.

It looks at the life of a number of Iranian Kurdish fuel smugglers who risk their life to smuggle fuel across the border into Iraq, so that they can help their families financially.

Some as young as 13 have to drop out of school to smuggle fuel for a living, and die while doing their job.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Categories: Iraq, Kurdistan | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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