Jalal Jonroy - New York, 2002

    YOL is written and directed by a Kurd, Yilmaz Guney, from Turkish
    prison (via his assistant). "The most surprising thing about Yol is its
    non-reliance on dialog to make its points. It is an overwhelming
    visual film that renders everything…in images so elemental that they
    have an almost expressionist power. Even in jail, Guney thought in
    images- as if he felt that words could never be enough. His film
    argued for revolutionary change with superb visual rhetoric." [Film-
    The Critics Choice, Editor: Geoff Andrew. The Ivy Press, 2001.]

The ‘change’ refers to the oppression of some 20 million Kurds by Turkey, a ruthless
oppression which continues to this date, including the destruction of over 3000 Kurdish
ancient villages, a colossal crime against humanity and the echo-balanced environment
and rural life of Kurdistan, not to mention its ancient arts and crafts. This massive crime is
largely unreported and un-protested as it is overshadowed by exclusive preoccupation with
Saddam's Iraq and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Ironically because Northern Kurdistan is still under Turkish rule (annexed to modern
Turkey in the1920’s by Nazi-like force of Turkish Supremacist General Kemal Ataturk)
Yilmaz Guney and Yol are often mistakenly described as Turkish. Poor Guney would
shudder in his grave! Guney was not only Kurdish but had been sentenced for over 100
years by Turkey, mostly for his Kurdish nationalism. He escaped Turkish prison and
finished Yol in Europe. (Was not Yol the first Middle Eastern film ever to win the prestigious
Palm d’Or in 1982 at Cannes Film festival?) Guney settled in exile in Paris where he
continued to make striking films, such as ‘The Wall’.

A Turkish director at New York’s MoMA Film Festival called Kurdish language a "dialect" of
Turkish! That’s as accurate as a German claiming French is a dialect of German language
had Germany succeeded in annexing France for 85 years as modern Turkey has annexed
northern Kurdistan for last 85 years. Distinct European languages share same Biblical
words and names- as Kurdish, Turkish and Persian share Arabic Quran.

Guney is one of the founders of Institut Kurde de Paris. Today most of this Institute’s
treasures of Kurdish history, literature, poetry, and music would be banned in Kurdistan
proper divided and ruled by Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

Wim Wender’s (noted German director) documentary about original directors showed
Guney only as a tape recorder! Turkish secret agents were ordered to capture or
assassinate Guney. Sadly, Guney passed away of cancer (when he was under 50). He
was honorably buried in Pere la Chaise (with Chopin et al) in Paris. Yol and all his Kurdish
films were banned in Turkey for over 20 years. His wife says that dozens of master prints of
Guney’s films were destroyed or made to disappear by Turkish authorities.

Yet a few years ago Turkey finally decided to claim & celebrate deceased Guney as a
master "Turkish" director! A Turkish government controlled Yilmaz Guney Foundation was
set up in Istanbul. But such is Turkish’s deep racist Kurdophobia that some Guney films
are robbed of their Kurdishness. For example the crucial subtitle ‘KURDISTAN’ in the
moving scene when one of the protagonist descends the bus and kisses his homeland is
censored in this Foundation’s prints. (The London Kurdish Film Festival had to replace this
paid-for circumcised print by an original print from BFI.) Most Turks are yet to be allowed to
see the complete ‘Yol’ and his ‘The Wall’ in which on a prison wall is written in the blood of
a tortured prisoner, "Biji Kurdistan- Long Live Kurdistan". Turks are deprived by their
government censors of Guney’s underlying theme: Turkey’s insanely cruel repression of
Kurds and Kurdistan.

To this date, the words Kurd and Kurdistan are banned or missing even from the press
release, literature and all cultural activities from Turkey even from free Turks living in the
multi-ethnic international city of New York!


Jonroy's other articles

A monument to human endurance
Suspension of disbelief
Why write?