Melbourne Kurdish Film Festival finalized
Yılmaz Güney’s documentary drew attentions
Devrim Kilic-KurdishCinema.com / Melbourne / 23 March, 2007
The first Melbourne Kurdish Film Festival which took place
between 21 and 23 of March in 2007 has been finalized.
Australian director Jane Mills’ documentary on Yilmaz Guney
that shot 23 years ago while Guney was alive drew attentions.
The short film “Black water” received the best film award
along with the short documentary “I’m angry with God”
receiving the second prize and “Bicycle” receiving the third
prize at the festival. Jury also gave complimentary awards
to Jiyar Gol’s “The Emblem of Turkey; Kurdish question”
and Taha Karimi’s “White Mountains”. Melbourne Kurdish Black Water
Film Festival is organized by a group of Kurdish film lovers and sponsored by Institute for Kurdish
Studies in Australia, Asia Link at University of Melbourne and Victorian Multicultural Commission.
“How Kurds would create a cinema?”
made the opening speech. Dr. Kamal said the Kurds could not create an
independent state in 20th century and suffered massacres at the hand of
the four states that control Kurdistan. Dr. Kamal explained that although the
first film shown in Kurdistan was in mid 1920s in Sulaymaniyah the Kurdish
Cinema did not come out until early 1990s. Dr. Kamal said “How a nation
like Kurds who experienced massacres and genocides would create a
cinema” and expressed that claimed that the idea of Kurdish Cinema has
started by the films of Yilmaz Guney. Also Dr. Kamal said “Though his films
are not in Kurdish as a result of oppressions in Turkey, the topics and
characters of his films are Kurdish.” Dr. Kamal said the aim of Melbourne
new and young Kurdish directors in their artistic work and it is planned to organize the festival
continuously in following years
Before the screenings of films Kurdish Fashion Show and Kurdish Folk Dance took place. After
that famous Kurdish musician Tufan Toghyani performed a Daf show which was absolutely
amazing to listen to.
and documentaries. At the first day of the festival two documentaries “Muhajir” (Kurdish for
migrant) directed by Vaheed Vaheed and “Yilmaz Guney: His life and his films” directed by Jane
Mills were screened.
“Guney’s films are about oppressed people and Kurds”
“Migrant”, directed by Vaheed Vaheed from Iran, is a 24 minutes long documentary telling the
story of a Kurdish man, Hassan, deserted Iraqi Army in 1975. Since then Hassan has been living
in Iran. Hassan is a professional sportsman but cannot complete internationally for Iran as he is
not granted a refugee status for more than 30 years.
Jane Mills documentary “Yilmaz Guney: His films and His life” was
extraordinary in terms of revealing the interesting life of a political
filmmaker living in Turkey. Shot in 1984 just before Guney passed
away in Paris, the documentary is mainly built around an interview
with the director and it is said that the interview is the last filmed
interview with him. The documentary reflects the story of Guney’s
films such as Yol (The Way), Suru (The Herd) and The Wall, and
Anxiety, by going through hardships Guney endured during his life
in Turkey. Also the documentary investigates the political aspects
of Guney films along with the interconnection between his life and
his films. For example Guney tells during the interview that he is
originally Kurdish and in The Herd (1982) he portrays the life of Jane Mills
The documentary reveals very successfully that because of undemocratic nature of Turkish state
Yilmaz Guney had experienced prosecutions and imprisonments on the basis that he was a
“communist”. In 1961, Guney is put in jail for writing a short story which deemed as ‘communist
propaganda’. Guney explains that when the prosecutor told him that he was a communist and
knew everything; at that point he decided to know everything in political sense and started to
educate himself politically.
cannot forgot the moment of meeting Guney in Paris.
Mills said that “I was waiting at a very expensive
restaurant. Suddenly a car stopped outside and four
men rushed out. They were Guney’s guards. He was
guarded al the time because Guney was receiving
threats from Turkish state and Turkish nationalists.
Then Yilmaz Guney got out of the car wearing a white
suits and he had, as always, a very charismatic
appearance. During the interview he was seriously
sick; I can remember we had to stop the interview
several times because he was very weak.” Mills
stated that Yilmaz Guney made political films and
especially in his earlier films he took the working
class as his subject matter, but later Guney portrayed
the life of Kurds in his films, such as in The Herd and
The Way (1982).
“I’ll be a lawyer”
day. 5 short films, ‘Human Chess Machine’, ‘The
Mirror of the Last Day’, ‘White Mountains’, ‘Scale’ and
‘Oh Hell!’, and a documentary ‘The Emblem of Turkey’
were screened. Kurdish-Canadian director Jiyar Gol’s
documentary “The Emblem of Turkey: Kurdish
Question” is a very striking documentary and
applauded by the audience. The 57 minutes
documentary, set in Turkey in 2004, investigates the
possibility of peace between Turkish state and Kurds.
villagers to big cities, the documentary provides a significant insight about the Kurdish problem of
Turkey. Jiyar Gol spends a month in Turkey and visits some Kurdish and Turkish cities
interviewing both sides to question if a peace can be achieved between conflicting parties. What
linger in my mind after watching the film are the lines of the young Kurdish people. Jiyar Gol asks
a young Kurdish girl whose father killed by Turkish soldiers and whose brother joined PKK later,
what she would like to be in future. The answer is quite heartbreaking: “I want to be a lawyer
because our many people jailed and I want to defend them at courts.” This line is repeated by
some other Kurdish children when the director poses the same question to them. One can easily
see the sufferings of Kurds in those children’s eyes and in their aim to be a lawyer to defend their
people. On the other hand Jiyar interview a Turkish young man whose soldier brother got killed in
a clash between PKK and Turkish Army. He says “If I have Ocalan here right now I would slice and
kill him with a knife.” Hearing these lines makes one seriously think if a peace can be achieved in
Turkey between Turkish state and Kurds…
Questioning the “Brakuji”
The 30 minutes short film “White Mountains” directed by Taha Karimi
of Eastern Kurdistan was another attention grabbing documentary
screened in the second day of the festival. White Mountains is a
criticism of “brakuji” (Kurdish term to describe the fight between
siblings). This film reflects the internal conflict among Kurdish
political parties through the life of Mullah Ibrahim who collects the
dead bodies regardless of which parties they are belong to and
bury them. Mullah Ibrahim places some small white stones at the
places where any Pashmarga killed and he thinks the meaningless
fight will stop when the all mountains covered with white stones. White Mountains
At the third day of the festival 10 short films and documentaries were shown, those are ‘Life’,
‘Black Water’, ‘Bicycle’, ‘The Lost Dream’, ‘I am angry with God’, ‘Terracotta’, ‘The Opposite World’,
‘Breathing’ and ‘Mud Roof’.
The short film, “Black Water”, directed by Sahim Ömer Halife from Belgium, -won the best film
award, criticizes honor killing. Armanc a Kurd from Turkey living in Belgium kills his wife, thanks to
his father’s manipulation, on the basis that she had affair with another man while they were in the
village. Armanc is told that his son is from someone else. At the end of the day Armanc finds out
that the boy is his own son and he made a mistake in killing his wife. However it is too late for him
to be sorry as he has to serve 30 years prison sentence for this vital mistake.
“I’m angry with God” which won the second prize at the festival is an excellent 10 minutes short
film. Directed by İbrahim Rahmani of Eastern Kurdistan this film reflects the miserable life of
several old and sick people. The film opens with the image of an old blue door of a village house.
The director tries to interview an old man who is inside the house and but he does not open the
door because he is angry with everything including the God. In spite of the insisting questions and
demand of the director the old man never opens the door so we cannot see the old man
throughout the whole film. Then film turns at the other old people living in the same village and
reveal their sufferings. However I think it would be more striking if the film finished at the blue door.
Owing to being the first Kurdish Film Festival of Melbourne there was some problems with the
organization of course. Namely, no films of Kurdish directors from Northern Kurdistan screened in
the festival. And the venue was not very good for the screenings. But overall the festival was
excellent and I praise the work of the organizing committee, especially Tuana, for their great work
and hope to see a better and comprehensive 2. Melbourne Kurdish Film Festival next year!
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