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Documentary highlighting Iraqi Christians premieres in Detroit, ready for nation

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BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — If the storyteller doesn’t tell the story, the story is lost.

For local producers of Marked: The Untold Story of the Iraqi Christians, losing the story would be unthinkable.

With the Islamic State purging Iraqi Christians from cities and towns where they’ve dwelled for thousands of years, three local Chaldeans set out to produce a documentary calling attention to the atrocities facing Christians in their ancient homeland.Left to right, director Attisha Fadi, Karam Bahnam, Al Zara and Vanessa Denha-Garmo stand before a poster at the premiere of Marked, a documentary about the persecution of Christians in Iraq. (Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic)

“More than a year ago, Bishop Francis Kalabat (of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle) was worried the story would die out, and people would forget about the persecuted Christians,” said producer Vanessa Denha-Garmo, editor of the Southfield-based Chaldean News. “We talked about doing a documentary with Mar Toma Productions, who are used to producing Catholic programming around the globe.”

Mar Toma Productions is a division of the Eastern Catholic Re-Evangelization Center in Bloomfield Township.

Denha-Garmo, along with fellow producers Al Zara and Karam Bahnam, set upon the yearlong task of researching, conducting interviews in Iraq, collecting footage and editing a narrative of the history of Christianity in Iraq and the current plight facing the faithful there.

On March 23, Marked premiered at the Maple Theatre in Bloomfield Township, with two screens sold out in the span of 10 days. The film is scheduled to be shown in Arizona, California, Colorado, Chicago and New York, with more locations to be announced as demand for the documentary increases.

“We want to make the world know that genocide is going on,” Zara said. “The U.S. Department of State just declared it genocide, but we know that it won’t change overnight. We want people to see this film, get people to call to make a difference. It’s not just volunteering in a physical capacity, but volunteering from the grassroots level with legal help and logistics, calling congressional leaders, letting people know there are Christians in the Middle East.”

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