Welcome to the 8th London Kurdish Film Festival. We are delighted to be with you this year in what is the biggest and richest selection of films and events to date at our festival. In this year’s programme we have 121 films, comprising 23 features, 46 documentaries and 52 shorts, including 20 short films competing in the prestigious 4th Yilmaz Guney Short Film Competition.
As the London Kurdish Film Festival we pride ourselves on being the only festival that brings together the largest selection of films from the four parts of Kurdistan and the world. We believe cinema plays a vital role in unifying the divided Kurdish nation, protecting and developing their culture and arts as well as introducing them to the wider world. The continuing rise in Kurdish film production has meant that this year there are more films covering critical topics and telling ever more compelling stories, which are to a higher quality, than ever before. This is reflected in the awards and recognition Kurdish cinema is now receiving worldwide.
As our opening gala film this year we are honoured to have the UK premiere of BEFORE SNOWFALL, a thought provoking film about honour killing by multi-award winning director Hisham Zaman; who will be in attendance at the festival.
In our star studded and award winning feature line-up we have master filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi’s UK premiere of RHINO SEASON, starring Monica Bellucci and Behrouz Vossoughi; the UK premiere of ever-present Hiner Saleem’s Cannes selected MY SWEET PEPPERLAND, the first ‘Kurdish Western’; the internationally acclaimed BEKAS (UP & AWAY) by Karzan Kader, a film about two Kurdish brothers trying to travel to America to meet Superman; Antalya Golden Orange Best Film Winner YOUR BEAUTY IS WORTH NOTHING by Huseyin Tabak; renowned director Reha Erdem’s JIN, which tells the story of a young Kurdish woman trying to survive in a patriarchal world and award winning REC (TRACE) by Tayfur Aydin, the story of a son who struggles against authorities to bury his mother in her homeland. We are thrilled to be able to have Hiner Saleem, Bahman Ghobadi, and Tayfur Aydin with us for the screenings of their films.
As with the record number of feature films, we are also showcasing a record number of documentaries at this year’s festival, which cover a wide range of issues concerning Kurds and Kurdistan including Veli Kahraman’s award winning and poetic WHERE IS MY MOTHER TONGUE?, a film about the importance of the Kurdish language in defining its culture and world; ROBOSKI MON AMOUR by Bulent Gunduz, a personal and touching journey to the village where 34 Kurds were massacred by the Turkish state in 2011 and HUNGER DUTY and STATE IS THE PERPETRATOR which look at the KCK arrests and recent struggle in North Kurdistan. The genocide committed against Kurds in South Kurdistan is relived in the sorrowful documentaries EM and BALISAN; the lives of an invisible people are documented in the award winning DOM; the haunting story of a young girl murdered by her family in the UK is uncovered in BANAZ: A LOVE STORY; forced marriages and violence against children is the subject of PLAYING HOUSE and HOME respectively, we delve into the highly secretive and conservative world of Ezidi Kurds in LALISH MIHRANI, and the beauty and astonishing nature of Kurdistan is portrayed in STONE MELODY, THE EARTH MELODY and GATE OF GOD. Also this year we have two essential documentaries from West Kurdistan (Syria), THE SILENT REVOLUTION, which takes an in-depth look at the struggle of the Kurds in creating a new and free life in a war-torn area and THE LAST CIGARETTE which follows a family as they try to escape the war and survive in a refugee camp in South Kurdistan.
Our belief in the importance of short films for the development of Kurdish cinema means that a novelty in this year’s festival is the screening of short films before features. The notable increase in the production and quality of short films has led to Rezan Yesilbas’s SILENT, which won the best short film award at Cannes in 2012 and HOUSES WITH SMALL WINDOWS by Bulent Ozturk, which won the 2013 European Short Film Award at Venice. Apart from these two films all the short films selected for the 4th Yilmaz Guney Short Film Competition, will be screened before a feature film. The Out of Competition short films, differing with previous festivals, will be screened not according to which part of Kurdistan they derive from, but instead in four separate programmes.
Finally, we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our festival this year. In particular all the volunteers who have made the festival possible; the filmmakers who submitted their films; the pre-selection committee members who selected films, jury members who agreed to take part in selecting award winners and all our representatives in Kurdistan for their valuable contributions and critical support. We would like to specifically thank our sponsors; The University of Kurdistan Hewler, KRG UK Representation, Levenes Solicitors, KRG Minister of Culture and Youth, IPBD – Al Zahawi Group, Presiding Solutions, IKB, MHS, Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) and Magnolia Banqueting Suite. Without the support of our friends and sponsors, it would not be possible to organise an event on this scale.
We are also very grateful and would like to thank Hackney Picturehouse and Westbourne Studios, The Mosaic Rooms, Westway Development Trust, The Kurdish Community Centre (KCC), Halkevi Kurdish and Turkish Community Centre, Kurdish Association (KA) and Kurdish Exile Association (KEA) for their on-going and important support.
We hope that you enjoy the festival this year.
“Sinema Bi Kurdi Xwese! (Cinema in Kurdish is nicer!)
London Kurdish Film Festival Organisation Committee