Feature films and documentaries about Kurdistan

GWYNNE ROBERTS

‘Frontline’  interview, transcripts, films

http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/iraq501/audio_index.html

THE HERD (Sürü)

Director: Zeki Ökten / Y¦lmaz Güney

Cast: Tar¦k Akan, Melike Demirag, Tuncel Kurtiz.

Turkey 1978 / 114m

Turkish with English subtitles.

The film tells the story of a family of nomadic shepherds destroyed by their contact with modern civilization as they transport a flock of sheep by train to Ankara. The central figure in the film is the son who tries to heal the rifts caused by family vendettas and to adapt to modern society. Eventually he is destroyed - driven to inarticulate revolt and then promptly beaten and arrested - just as the old patriarch is swallowed up in the anonymity of sprawling present day Ankara.

YOL (The Journey)

Director: Serif Gören / Yilmaz Güney

Cast: Tarik Akan, Halil Ergün, Meral Orhonsay, Semra Uçar.

Turkey 1982 / 111m

Turkish with English subtitles.

The notoriously brutal Turkish prison system undergoes a rare moment of compassion in YOL. Five convicts are given a week's leave from jail so that they may visit their friends, families and lovers. Sadly, each of the men is confronted with tragedy, disillusionment or both upon arriving home. Writer Yilmaz Güney knew what he was talking about: he spent much of his adult life in prison for various political activities.  Using the 'limited-leave' device as a launching pad, Güney uses the journey to savagely skewer many of Turkey's antiquated sociopolitical attitudes, notably the subjugation of women.

A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES

Director: Bahman Ghobadi

Cast: Nezhad Ekhtiar-Dini, Amaneh Ekhtiar-Dini, Madi Ekhtiar-Dini.

Kurdistan-Iran 2000 / 80m

Farsi and Sorani with English subtitles.

In Iranian Kurdistan, very near the border with Iraq, five brothers and sisters live at subsistence level. The younger boy has a serious illness. The medicine he takes is expensive, and the doctor says he has to be operated on soon to have a chance of surviving. Despite the efforts of the eldest brother 
who takes on lots of odd jobs, the family is unable to pay for the operation. So, the elder sister accepts to marry an Iraqi who is prepared to give them financial help for the operation. However, the future spouse's family refuses to let the sick boy cross the border.

MAROONED IN IRAQ

Director: Bahman Ghobadi

Cast: Allah-morad Rashtian, Faegh Mohammadi, Iran Ghobadi

Iran 2002 / 110m / Kurdish with English subtitles

An aging Kurdish singer, Mirza, persuades his two grown musician sons to accompany him on a mission into Iraq to locate his ex-wife, who, rumour has it, needs him. The journey takes them through a lawless land of bombs and bandits where the only policemen they encounter are handcuffed and in underwear. The film portrays the Kurds living on the border of Iran and Iraq not only as victims, but also as people who love music, life and children, and have a wicked sense of humour that enables them to survive persecution. Winner of the Best Film award at the Chicago Film Festival, although director Bahman Ghobadi turned down the award after the US authorities refused him an entry visa.

TURTLES CAN FLY (Kusî Jî Dikarin Bifirin)

Director: Bahman Ghobadi

Cast: Avaz Latif, Soran Ebrahim, Hirsh Feyssal, Saddam Hossein Feysal,

Abdol Rahman Karim

Iraq-Iran 2004 / 95m / Kurdish with English subtitles / 15

Bahman Ghobadi's third feature film after A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES and MAROONED IN IRAQ is set in a village in Iraqi Kurdistan, on the border between Iran and Turkey, where the villagers desperately seek a satellite dish antenna in order to keep updated on the impending attack of the Americans in Iraq. Coming from another village with his younger sister and her child, a mutilated boy has a foreboding: the war is getting closer and closer... TURTLES CAN FLY won the main prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival in September. "Ghobadi displays a complete command of his art as he shifts between - and even blends - wrenching tragedy and amusing comedy." (Variety)

HALF MOON (Nive Heyve)

Director: Bahman Ghobadir

Cast: Ismail Ghaffari, Allah Morad Rashtiani, Farzin Sabooni, Kambiz Arshi, Sadiq Behzadpoor, Ali Ashraf Rezai, Reza Haj Khosravi, Mohamad Nahid, Bahram Zarei Hedieh Tehrani, Golshifteh Farahani, Hassan Poorshirazi.

South Kurdistan (Iraq)-Iran-Austria 2006 / 114m / Kurdish with English subtitles / 15

Saddam has fallen and Mamo, a renowned Kurdish musician, begins a journey to Iraq with his sons to perform a concert. An old friend drives the minibus that picks up Mamo's sons one by one. Although one son tells of the dire predictions of his village elders if the journey continues, Mamo is determined to carry on. Borders are crossed, difficulties are faced and the journey becomes both an adventure and an exploration. This outstanding new film from Bahman Ghobadi (TURTLES CAN FLY) won the top prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival together with awards for writing and photography.

LONG LIVE THE BRIDE… AND THE LIBERATION OF KURDISTAN

Director: Hiner Saleem

Cast: Georges Corraface, Marina Kobakhidze, Tuncel Kurtiz

France 1997 / 96m / French and Kurdish with English subtitles

Set inside the 100,000-population Kurdish community in Paris. Cheto seeks a wife via videotapes while still seeing his French girlfriend, immigration office worker Christine. Cheto places an order for a beautiful girl, but he's disappointed when her sister, country girl Mina, arrives at the airport as a substitute. Family pressure forces him to marry her. Unhappy with the way she's treated by Cheto, Mina acquires some progressive ideas from Leila and other local feminists, leading to confrontations with Cheto.

BEYOND OUR DREAMS

Director: Hiner Saleem

Cast: Olivier Sitruk, Rosanna Vite Mesropian.

France-Armenia-Italy 2000 / 100m

French and Kirmanji with English subtitles.

Hiner Saleem's second feature tracks a young refugee couple's flight from Kurdistan to hopeful sanctuary in Paris, braving travails comic and tragic on their long, serpentine path. Already struggling toward an uncertain destination at the outset, childhood sweethearts Dolovan and Zara are first seen huffing across the frozen Caucasian 

Mountains. Not by choice: Saying "We have no country," Dolovan is resigned to the necessity of leaving their lifelong village in Mesopotamia, where ethnic strife has drawn a vicious line between local Kurds and their suddenly intolerant neighbours. Zara is more reluctant, and their odyssey starts very badly as her elderly parents, lagging behind, are lost to the elements." (Dennis Harvey, Variety)

VODKA LEMON (Vodka Leymûn)

Director: Hiner Saleem

Cast: Romen Avinian, Lala Sarkissian, Ivan Franek

France-Italy-Switzerland-Armenia 2003 / 90m / Armenian, Kurdish with English subtitles / PG

Hiner Saleem's gentle tragi-comedy tells of Hamo, an ageing widower, who finds love in, of all places, a cemetery. But it's also the story of his tiny Kurdish village – a remote, snowbound outpost the real and the surreal agreeably co-exist. With his wife in the ground, his only hope rests in an adult son who has immigrated to France. Saleem surrounds his protagonists with a colourful gallery of eccentrics. The real star, though, is the rugged, mountainous landscape: a winter wonderland that will have you blinking in chilly awe. The marvel is that Saleem finds human empathy and alcohol-fuelledbonhomie flourishing in such a forbidding and melancholy wilderness.” (BBCi Films)

KILOMETRE ZERO

Director: Hiner Saleem

Cast: Nazmi Kirik, Belçim Bilgin, Eyam Ekrem, Ehmed Qeladizeyi, Nezar

Selami. France-South Kurdistan (Iraq) 2005 / 96m / Kurdish with English subtitles / 15

Iraq 1988. Young husband and father Ako is forced to join Saddam Hussein’s army. The unwilling soldier dreams of fleeing the country, but his wife Selma refuses to leave while her old bedridden father is still alive. Ako is sent away to the frontline of the Iran-Iraq War, where he experiences not only the reality of war but, because of his Kurdish background, also abuse from all sides. Desperation calls for desperate measures.

MY SWEET PEPPER LAND  (2013)

Director:  Huner Saleem

Baran, a Kurdish independence war hero, is now sheriff in Erbil, the capital city. No longer feeling useful in this society now at peace, he thinks about quitting the police force, but instead agrees to be stationed in a small valley, at the very borders of Iran, Turkey, and Iraq.

AX (Land)  

Director:Kazim Oz / Turkey / 1999

The story of an old Kurdish man, who insists on not leaving his village, from which the people are forced by the Turkish army, to migrate. The only thing left from the former active life is a dead silence and places full of memories.

THE PHOTOGRAPH (Fotograf)

Director: Kazim Öz

Cast: Feyyaz Duman, Nazmi Kirik, Mizgin Kapazan, Zülfiye Dolu.

Turkey 2000 / 66m

Turkish and Kirmanji with English subtitles.

An imaginatively shot and revealing film following the stories of two young men travelling to Turkish Kurdistan by bus. They sit next to each other, each of them hiding the reason for his journey from the other. Who are they? Where are they going? And why? A strange kind of proximity and warmth develops between the two of them. The road, the cigarettes and the discomfort they have shared leaves a trace that will reverberate after their paths have separated.

TIREJ

Director: Halil Uysal

Editor: Ozgur Reyzan

Cast : Mehmet Emin, Harun Ahmed

Produced by: Martyr Sefkan Culture & Art School, Cinema Dept.

Kurdistan 2002 / 50m / Kurdish with English subtitles

A film written, directed and acted by real life guerrillas and based on a true story, this is perhaps the first feature made entirely by guerrillas. It tells the story of a clash with the Turkish army. After fierce fighting, two guerrillas survive and are encircled by the Turkish army. The war is seen from the perspective of the guerrillas. Will they survive? Will other guerrillas come to their rescue? What are their thoughts when they are fighting, and what will go into the diary of one of the guerrillas?

TALL MIRROR (Eyna Bejnê)

Director: Halil Uysal

Cast: Sabriye fke, Hevi Sanoger, Tofan Silan, Sadik Cudi

Kurdistan 2002 / 100m / Kurdish with English subtitles

An exploration of the daily life of the Kurdish guerillas through the eyes of a child called Sakine. The mountain guerillas attempt to bring a mirror from a nearby village as a birthday present for Sakine. The ensuing journey with four guerillas is ourney of discovery for Sakine and she makes friends with them. A mirror held up to the life in the mountains.

BERITAN

Directors: Halil Uysal, Jinda Baran, Dersim Zeravanr

Cast: Beritan Cûdi, Jinda Baran, Rubar Qamislo, Ömer Harran, Jinda Wan, Nugayla, Beritan Boran, Gesbun, Sterk Amed, Dersim Zeravan, Xebat Serhat, Rezan Iran, Andok Amed, Ahin Qubani, M.Emin, Bager Mardin, Raperin, Hasan Afrin, Erkan Safir

South Kurdistan (Iraq) 2006 / 180m / Kurdish (Kurmanji) and Turkis

Filmed in the Kurdish mountains and acted by real guerrilla fighters, this he true story of Kurdish heroine Gülnaz Karatas, nickname Beritan, who joined the Kurdish resistance movement. She was both a poet and a resistance fighter who also fought the wrong doings committed by some commanders within the PKK's military wing, before dying a heroic death, throwing herself off a cliff after running out of ammunition.

COLOURFUL DREAMS (Xewnên Rengîn)

Director: Mano Khalil

Cast: Hasa H. Inan, David Imhoof, Max Rüdlinger, Sandra

Forrer, Rezan Cetin

Switzerland 2003 / 60m / Kurdish with English subtitles

COLOURFUL DREAMS could be the story of every artist who has great dreams - dreams which are difficult to translate reality and often fade like spring blossom blown away in the wind. It could also be the story of a people who, having lost their homeland, can no longer find peace of mind.

JIYAN

Director: Jano Rosebiani

Cast: Kurdo Galali, Pisheng Berzinci, Çoman Hawrami

Kurdistan 2002 / 94m / Kurdish with English subtitles

Five years after the infamous chemical and biological bombing of Halabja, Diyari, a Kurdish/American Samaritan, returns to his homeland to build an orphanage in what is left of Halabja. During the course of his stay, he meets a colourful bunch of townfolk, many of whom remain physically and/or psychologically marked with the effects of the chemical agents. Among them is Jiyan, a ten year old orphan. A strong bond between the two ensues and later he names the orphanage after her.

CHAPLIN OF THE MOUNTAINS

Director: Jano Rosebiani

The story of a French woman of Kurdish origin, daughter of an anfal (genocide) victim, as she searches for her mother's village.  She tags along a couple of NYU graduates who roam the Kurdish countryside showing Charlie Chaplin films.

ONE CANDLE, TWO CANDLES

Director: Jano Rosebiani

A romantic tragic comedy about the plight of women for equality.