The state of Kurdish cinema

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WHEN Zaradasht Ahmed, a Norwegian-Kurdish director, began shooting his war documentary, a complicated process spanning more than five years awaited him. “Nowhere to Hide” (2016, pictured), an immersive account of a male nurse working and raising a family in Iraq, was shot collaboratively by Mr Ahmed and the nurse himself, Nori Sharif. Living in the “no-go” zone of Jalawla, Mr Sharif could access people and places which organisations and journalists could not. Mr Ahmed taught him how to film—and ended up taking the documentary in a whole new direction.

Although the Kurds’ contributions to defeating Islamic State (IS) turned the world’s eye on this population of 40m—spread across Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran—little is known about their creative cultural output. For decades, politics made it nearly impossible for them to make films: the Kurdish language was banned in places, poverty was rife, and the Iraqi-Kurdish civil war lasted throughout the 1990s.

But in recent years, Erbil, the largest city in the…Continue reading

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