A People Speaks Out
breathtaking mountain landscapes (that always make Kurds in exile
nostalgic). But what stands out most is the place given to testimony
and to speaking out. Often, the voice is that of the filmmaker, usually
off camera; it is that of Kurds encouraged to talk about their reality,
past and present. And they not only speak of their reality, they often
sing of it, in the tradition of their bards.
Awareness of the past is acute among Kurds-and painful. Historical reminders are common in their
documentary films, making us realize that the historical awareness of a people goes hand in hand
with consciousness of its identity and dreams of freedom.
Displacement, exodus and forced emigration have long been the fate of Kurds, so it comes as no
surprise that some filmmakers have moved to Europe and make films about the reality of exile.
Such is the case of Binevsa Bêrîvan, director of Traces, le peuple du paon. She was born in
Istanbul and now lives in Belgium. Kazim Öz lives in Istanbul and is the director of Dûr. In films like
Là où Dieu dort by Mano Khalil, a Syrian Kurd living in Switzerland, and the splendid Les Béritans by
Kudret Günes, it is evident that the inner exodus experienced by hundreds of thousands of Kurds is
just as dramatic as the departure for foreign parts.
As various films have revealed, all these mass departures and displacements have weakened the
traditional customs and ways of life in Kurd communities. They threaten the population’s sense of
belonging and identity-indeed, an entire lifestyle, language and culture.
One final note: it is significant that in this young cinema-barely 15 years old-several directors work
in both documentary and fiction. The career of prominent Kurd filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi, director
of A Time for Drunken Horses, encompasses both. In Daf, he films with consummate art the daily
gestures of a family that manufactures dafs (a kind of tambourine) according to ancient techniques
(see section Maestro).
*Claude Nadon is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Kurdish Institute of Montreal
Kiarostami’s portrayal of
Kurds in ‘A taste of
cherry’ and ‘The wind
will carry us’
Kurdish Identity and
Culture in the Films of
Yol: A monument to
An interview with the
director Lauand Omar
David & Layla: Criticism
of cultural biases and
celebration of love!
Interview with Yilmaz
David & Layla
Pain of Giving Birth
Crossing the Border
The New Kurdish
Yol - Jalal Jonroy
Breaking the Silence