Global Kurdish Film Festival aims to promote Kurdistan beyond borders

“These films are carefully selected” and represent “the best of Kurdish cinema,” an organizer said.
A screenshot from the Global Kurdish Film Festival trailer. (Photo: LKFF)
A screenshot from the Global Kurdish Film Festival trailer. (Photo: LKFF)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Organizers launched the first-ever Global Kurdish Film Festival on April 16, an online event that is expected to showcase over 100 films and will continue until April 27.

“The festival’s theme is ‘My Kurdistan,’” Ferhan Sterk, the London Kurdish Film Festival director, told Kurdistan 24. “We want to show a holistic picture of Kurdish Cinema through films made in all parts of Kurdistan; Bakur, Basur, Rojava, and Rojhelat.”

“These films are carefully selected” and represent “the best of Kurdish cinema,” Sterk added. The director noted that his group wanted to highlight the finest works in the field from Kurdish creators as “there is no film industry that promotes Kurdish cinema.”

The London Kurdish Film Festival (LKFF) was established in 2001 by young filmmakers from Kurdistan in the United Kingdom bringing films from all parts of Kurdistan.

This year the festival celebrates the LKFF's 20th anniversary with an enduring commitment to uniting Kurdish film festivals worldwide. The event has been moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have partnered with 10 other Kurdish film festivals,” Sterk said. “We want to show the Kurdish national unity within Kurdish cinema and its importance. Whatever the political situation in Kurdistan, it does not affect Kurdish cinema itself. We are together, and we want to show that Kurdistan is not fragmented as much as Kurdish politics.”

“The language of cinema unites us, and films really help us stand behind our stories and understand our own history and culture and share that with other cultures and other communities.”

He added, “Kurdish cinema especially is under huge political pressure and doesn’t have the same opportunities that other nations have.”

The event will stream 118 films over the next 12 days, including 25 new feature films, 45 short films, and 48 classic Kurdish films.

One segment of the event is dedicated to a panel discussion on the future of Kurdish cinema. Renowned Kurdish directors will also host workshops and masterclasses.

The Global Kurdish Film Festival will be awarding filmmakers with eight awards, including in the new categories of “Best Fiction Feature, Best Short Film Documentary, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Choice of Audience Award,” selected by an international jury panel.

Kurdish film producer Meryem Dersim, who is involved in the film festival, told Kurdistan 24 that the event would screen movies made by diaspora Kurds as well.

“This shows us that it doesn’t matter where you end up living, we [as Kurds] share the same pain and happiness, and we all want our people to be safe.”

She also added that Kurdish cinema does not have a long history of financial support: “Our filmmakers don’t have many funding opportunities, and there is no big market for Kurdish cinema.”

“Despite oppression, war, and censorship, Kurdish filmmakers are trying to bring stories to life,” Dersim said. “These film festivals are very important, not only as a platform for bringing movies to communities around the world but also to share them with other communities and share the pain and happiness.”

Editing by Khrush Najari