New York Kurdish Film Festival completes its fifth year with females in focus

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The founder and director of the New York Kurdish Film and Cultural Festival, Xeyal Qertel. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
The founder and director of the New York Kurdish Film and Cultural Festival, Xeyal Qertel. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – This year's New York Kurdish Film and Cultural Festival completed its three-day program on Sunday, focusing this year on Kurdish women and their contributions to the development of feminism, human rights, literature, and an egalitarian society.

The programming predominantly features works made by Kurdish people but includes some Western perspectives on Kurdish life and struggle.

The festival was organized by its founder, New York-based educator and human rights activist Xeyal Qertel, who spoke to Kurdistan 24's Rahim Rashidi at the event.

"We are right now in New York at a landmark theater, Angelika, to celebrate our fifth edition to introduce Kurdish culture to our American sisters and brothers and also to unite our Kurdish brothers and sisters (who) live in the diaspora," she said.

"In the meantime," she continued, "We aim to give voice to 40 million or so Kurds, who have no representations in New York or elsewhere, through our Kurdish cultural heritage; music cinema literature, and poetry."

Last month, she told Kurdistan 24 that, this year, “We are trying to show who Kurdish women are and what they are trying to do. They have contributed significantly to human rights discourse, feminism, literature, and equitable and inclusive societal formation. This festival honors that."


Last year’s program, with the theme of Kurdish unity, took place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read More: Fourth New York Kurdish Film Festival focuses on Kurdish unity

"COVID-19 not only cost lives and made many sick and unemployed, but also created distance within our communities. People are striving to be able to gather again. Watching Kurdish film festivals alone at home does not really bring us together in the same way," Qertel said to Kurdistan 24 at the time.

The festival is sponsored by Justice for Kurds, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung NY Office, NYU Kevorkian Center, the Kurdish Lobby in Australia, and also its community partners such as the Washington Kurdish Institute, Kat and Retaw Film Distributions, and the German Film Office.

"Our purpose is to give opportunity to Kurds who do not otherwise have the opportunity to claim their identity," she said at this year's event.

"We do not have a nation-state, but we still have culture, we still have music, we still have cinema to feel the unity; to unite us through universal language."