Welcome to the 9th London Kurdish Film Festival. The history of Cinema is a long and dynamic one. The London Kurdish film festival now in its 15th anniversary has earned a title within this exciting journey. We have left behind us a total of eight successful festivals, and have now entered our 9th in the city of art, London. There is great excitement as we present to you cinema lovers, Kurdish films once again.
Movies are a powerful and influential form of artistic expression. They reflect societies perception; interpretation, beliefs and conscience. It is for this reason such a platform carries great significance in Kurdish society. As a nation of people who have desired peace in their homeland for extensive years, cinema draws light onto their dreams; struggles, culture, nature, memory and existence.
This year we made the decision to reduce the quantity of films, and eliminate the weekday early viewing hours in order to provide more guests a better chance of viewing as many of the films as possible. We have on our program a total of nine exceptionally powerful full-length films, seven of which are UK premieres. In addition, there are eleven documentaries and ten short films to compete in the prestigious 5th Yılmaz Güney Short Film Competition.
With every festival, it is our tradition to open with a thematically attention grabbing film. This years opening gala film successfully reflects the difficulties of filming movies in a region such as Kurdistan. We simultaneously experience a filmmaker’s journey, and the harsh reality of life’s struggles, which become material for movies. Shawkat Amin Korki’s “Memories On Stone” sets off the 9th Film Festival in full swing. It has also been selected to represent Iraq as the official submission for the 88th Academy Awards (Oscars) for the Best Foreign-Language Film.
Also, we are honoured to host the award-wining Hisham Zaman for the Question and Answer evening this year, after a viewing of his “Letter to the King” which has already won Best Nordic Film Award at the Göteborg International Film Festival.
Kenan Kormaz’s second feature film, “Gone: The Other and The Unknown,” will guide us through an unfamiliar territory. We will enter the world of Assyrians, one of Mesopotamia’s ancient civilisations, who have now been forced into migration from their land.
“Come to My Voice” is the latest feature directed by Hüseyin Karabey, who had previously gifted us with “Gitmek”, “Unutma Beni Istanbul” and “F Type”, alongside dozens of successful short films and documentaries. This year’s film offers an insightful fragment of life for Kurds in Turkey, and the desperation, which has become a daily aspect of their existence. The use of Dengbej beautifully assists us through the story, and becomes a sound to the internal life of the characters. Karabey will be joining us personally for the viewing of his film, which had its world premier in the widely renowned Berlinale film festival last year.
Alongside those mentioned, we are equally privileged to be joined by the film directors: Erol Mintaş who brings to us Song of My Mother, already awarded Best Film at the Sarajevo International Film Festival. Batin Ghobadi embarks us on a search through mountains and haunting memories in Mardan. Fariborz Kamkari delights us with the exotic dark comedy Pitza A Datteri. Ferit Karahan raises thought-provoking questions of conscience over society during The Fall from Heaven. Finally, Omer Leventoğlu transports us through chilling accounts of prison in Blue Van. The directors will be amongst us to celebrate the UK premieres of these immensely inspirational films.
In addition to the feature films, there is a chance to see a selection of eleven powerful documentaries. We will be witness to the experiences of different communities residing in Kurdistan over the past several years. During N the Christians of the Middle – East share their story of exile, and with Number 73, we witness the 73rd genocide inflicted upon the Yezidis. In Berroj we marvel at the resisitance displayed by the people in Kobane.
Mother Berfo, and Hope (Hevi) are amongst the documentaries, which best reflect the power, struggle, and perseverance of the Kurdish woman. In Mother Berfo, we are moved by a mother’s thirty-three year relentless search for her son, and in Hope we map out the journey of four activist Kurdish women; most notably that of Sakine Cansız who was massacred in Paris 2013.
The 9th London Kurdish Film Festival will proudly present the 5th Yilmaz Güney Short Film Competition. Therefore, we will hold our breath as we watch ten selected innovative short movies, filmed from all four corners of Kurdistan to compete in this years count down.
In 2011 for our 7th Film Festival we had presented the short film “Bark”. Haci Lokman, who was brutally murdered by Turkish Police, this October the 2nd 2015 in Şırnak, played the main role. In commemoration of our friend and fellow artist Haci Lokman, we will have a special – viewing of Bark again this year, so that his inspirational life replaces his tragic ending in our memories.
Finally, we would like to specifically thank our Kurdish filmmakers, who manage to create art in the toughest conditions; our volunteers dedicating hours of work; the organisations, which provide every means of support, and the sponsors who allow us to bring together such a profound festival.
Enjoy The Films!
London Kurdish Film Festival Organising Committee