The festival, which runs from March 11 to March 20— when the Nowruz torch will be lit in Erbil’s Shander park— will also, this year, form part of Erbil’s celebrations for winning the title of Capital of Arab Tourism 2014, awarded by the Council of Arab Tourism Ministers.
Fares arrived in Erbil on Friday and gave a press conference in the evening at the Rotana hotel in which she expressed her happiness at “visiting Erbil and seeing the splendid civilization of such a unique city she had long heard about.”
Fares said she has been asked several times to perform in Erbil over the past few years, but had been waiting for the perfect moment to enter the city—which finally arrived when she received the invitation to the festival from the Erbil municipality and at such a distinguished time for the city, having just received the prestigious tourism award.
Fares expressed her desire to learn the Kurdish language and to perform a song in it, as she loved learning about different civilizations and cultures. She added that she was eager to wear the traditional Kurdish costume during her tour of the city prior to the concert.
Asked by Asharq Al-Awsat if she could set her next video in the Kurdistan landscape, she said she would be more than glad to have the opportunity of shooting her film in the region as the landscape was known for its wonderful beauty throughout the four seasons.
During the press conference, Fares responded to questions with a great deal of diplomacy, failing to be provoked. She affirmed that, politically, she did not intervene in struggles between states, social structures and sects, but added that she advocated and championed nations’ rights, especially in view of her role as a Google Ambassador for Peace. However, she said that for her, an artist was a human being first and foremost and that she would not conceal anything new in her life from her fans.
The Kurdish Film Week also began in Erbil yesterday with five films being screened throughout the festival. All films were shot and produced in the region and the actors came from many cities and provinces in Iraqi Kurdistan.
It opened with an address by the Deputy Governor of Erbil, Taher Abdullah, who said the “Freedom and Nowruz” festival would be incomplete without the screening of films produced in the region by Kurdistan actors, directors and technicians.
Shakhwan Abbas, Director of the Erbil Cinema Department, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the showing of films was a necessary part of the festival and that the department had been an active partner in numerous other festivals and events, something new to the Kurdistan region.
Abbas said all five films “touch upon different important socio-political issues that concern the region, and Iraq in general.” He added that admission into the cinema theater was free on the first day and that the Erbil Cinema Department would meet half the price of tickets on all other days, following an agreement between it and the Royal Cinema theater.