London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The 7th London Kurdish Film Festival is currently underway, running from the 17th to the 27th of November. This year’s event comprises of 18 feature films, 29 documentaries and 55 short films, 20 of which are shortlisted for the 3rd Yilmaz Guney Short Film Competition, named in honour of the late Kurdish film director who received widespread acclaim and died in exile in Paris. Over 120 films in total are being screened, making this year’s festival the biggest in its history.
First launched in 2001, the London Kurdish Film Festival is led by a group of volunteers with the support of the main Kurdish community centers in London. It aims to provide a platform for Kurdish producers and filmmakers to bring their work to a wider audience; however it also aims to serve as a means of raising awareness for issues affecting any minority or migrant community. Over the past decade the festival has expanded considerably, now offering an extremely rich and diverse program currently being screened in digital format for the first time at London’s Hackney Picturehouse.
The festival was inaugurated with the screening of Iraqi-Kurdish director Hiner Saleem’s latest production, “If you die, I will kill you”, which depicts the travails of a Kurdish refugee traveling to Paris in pursuit of an Iraqi war criminal. Other highlights of this year’s festival include “Meş (Walking)”, a film which sparked controversy in Turkey when it was screened at Antalya’s International Golden Orange Film Festival, due to a scene where the lead character slaps a Turkish Army officer. The festival also features works from East Kurdistan (Iran), including “They like nobody”, which tells the story of a pregnant woman in a remote Kurdish village, as well as films that have been produced by members of the Kurdish diaspora in Europe, such as “The Flowers of Kirkuk”, “Exile in Paris”, and “Tangled Up in Blue”.
The festival also features documentaries such as “The First Movie” by Irish director Mark Cousins, who handed out video cameras to children in the Kurdish-Iraqi village of Goptapa, as well as the multi-award winning “All My Mothers” by Ebrahim Saaedi and Zahavi Sanjavi, which depicts modern day life in the now female-dominated villages of Kurdistan Iraq which were targeted by Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime.
The winner of the Yilmaz Guney Short Film Competition will be announced at an awards ceremony on the 24th November, whilst the 7th London Kurdish Film Festival will conclude on the 27th November at Westbourne Studios.