DAVID Pratt’s first experience of being shot at was when an unemployed man in his housing scheme started shooting at the postie with an air rifle because his giro hadn’t arrived.

Pratt, who was just passing the unfortunate postie on his way to primary school, had to duck for cover.

Perhaps that sparked something then, because as an adult teaching at Glasgow School of Art he decided to take off with a camera to see if he could make it as a war correspondent.

Fast forward many years and war zones and he is now a trusted and courageous photojournalist whose work is being highlighted in a premiere at Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) next Sunday.

With the terrible events unfolding in Ukraine, the timing could not be more apposite as the documentary clearly depicts the futility of war as Pratt retraces his steps in Iraq where the fighting continues.

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For Scots, the film is particularly relevant as it is filmed through the prism of the Kurdish people, the biggest nation without a state.

It is the second in a series of films about places where Pratt has worked and in which he returns to key battle sites and meets some of the contacts he has known for years.

The first, Pictures from Afghanistan, was premiered at Glasgow Film Festival before the Covid pandemic and was so successful that GFF has decided to premiere Pictures from Iraq which will also be screened by BBC Scotland.

Even though the war is ostensibly over in Iraq it remains dangerous, and for the film Pratt travelled in between lockdowns to the present front line.

A fortnight afterwards, the unit he travelled with was attacked by ISIS fighters who killed ten men and beheaded a local Kurdish policeman.

The unit is commanded by the legendary General Sirwan Barzani (below), commander of the famed Kurdish Peshmerga and nephew of the former president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani. Pratt first met the General in 2016 when his unit prevented Isis taking over Erbil. This time he took Pratt to the frontline which he describes as the Tora Bora of Iraq.

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“That of course was the place in Afghanistan where Bin Laden and his followers hung out, so this is an area in Iraq where there are still hundreds of active ISIS fighters in the villages and living in caves and tunnels,” said Pratt. “There are sleeper cells of Isis everywhere and they are on the resurgence so you have to be super careful in terms of security.”

That the fighting is continuing is no surprise to Pratt, who has revisited the country several times, but what did strike him was the state of Mosul.

“The degree of destruction of the old town is mind boggling with buildings pancaked one on top of another,” he said. “It was one of the most cosmopolitan parts of Iraq so the levels of destruction came as a shock to me – as well as the way the country continues to be ignored and abandoned. We went in and fought a bloody war there about oil and other things and then just hiked out of it.”

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During the film Pratt meets female members of the Kurdish Freedom Party and an old friend, the Swedish/Iraqi journalist Urban Hamid. The pair have covered many conflicts together over the years; the last time they met was in May 2018, when both were en route to Syria.

Compelling footage by leading Scots filmmaker Robbie Fraser is interspersed with Pratt’s evocative photographs and archive footage of him reporting on Iraq’s war-torn recent history.

Pratt hopes the series of films will give insights into countries that have gone off the media radar to some extent.

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“Although it’s fair to say that the world’s attention has moved away from Iraq, the problems have not gone away,” he said.

“Not only is ISIS re-grouping but there are also quite a lot of political fault-lines between the Kurds and Baghdad, and the extent of Iranian influence, all of which is reflected in the film through a series of encounters.”

The documentary, which was jointly funded by BBC Scotland, Screen Scotland, BBC Persian and the international distributor, Terranoa, is set to be screened in July alongside not just Pictures from Afghanistan but also another new Pratt-Fraser project, Pictures from the Balkans, which was shot last year.

Pictures from Iraq will be screened at the Glasgow Film Theatre at 1.15pm on Sunday, March 13, followed by a Q&A with David Pratt.