Female Kurdish film producer nominated as finalist for Rory Peck Award

Kurdish documentary film producer Speda Hazim. (Photo: Speda Hazim)
Kurdish documentary film producer Speda Hazim. (Photo: Speda Hazim)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish documentary film producer Speda al-Naqar, known as Speda Hazim, was nominated for the prestigious Rory Peck Award on Tuesday. 

“I am among the finalists for @rorypecktrust award, it’s an award for freelance journalists around the world congrats to me and all the nominees,” she tweeted on Tuesday.

“I couldn’t be more thankful to the incredibly talented Film Director and Journalist George Henton for everything he taught me,” she added. “Thanks to VICE for the support and Rory Peck Trust for the nomination.” 

“Speda is one of the very few females in the field of filmmaking in her community. In a country like Iraq and in a conservative culture like the Kurdish culture where women have very limited freedom, she has faced many obstacles while pursuing a career in documentary film production," Henton said in a statement.

Many of the Kurdistan Region's younger generations have aspired to work in the humanitarian sector or for the government, but Hazim wanted to be a freelancer. “I could have just gotten a job in an NGO, but I wanted to be a journalist,” she told Kurdistan 24. “I risked this, and I became a freelance documentary filmmaker.” 

Henton, a freelance documentary filmmaker for the BBC based in Kurdistan, helped Hazim to gain valuable experience, recalling, “We have worked together for almost three years and we have made tons of films together.” 

He also helped her with contacts in foreign media to pitch film ideas. In the end, Hazim made more than 60 documentary films, in both long and short form, produced for local, national, international, or social media. 

Most of her work has put a spotlight on sensitive topics such as mental health, suicide, sexual violence, and many others in a community where such topics are often taboo.

"So, that's why I was selected as a finalist, because of the topics I cover in the films I work on.”

Moreover, Hazim added that there are very few local females that are working on the production of documentary films in the Kurdistan Region or the greater Middle East. “I'm happy to be one of them and I'm willing to continue and study for an MA in documentary filmmaking and journalism.”

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) representative to the United States and a former journalist, congratulated Hazim on her nomination in a tweet. "Wish you success," she said.

Established in 1995, the Rory Peck Awards aims to give freelance journalists the recognition they deserve. This year’s award will be presented on Nov. 16 in London.

“Speda’s considerable storytelling skills are about important subjects rarely told in Iraq and the wider Middle East and she has faced the challenges of being one of the few female journalists in her community in Iraqi Kurdistan,” the Martin Adler Prize Jury said about her nomination as a finalist.

“Her reports shine a light on the exceptional bravery of women and minorities while highlighting issues such as land mine clearance.”

In the past, Kurdish journalists and fixers have received several international awards for their work.

One such example is Zmanko Ismael, a photographer from Sulaimani, who won the 2015 Port Peck Award for having filmed the mass exodus of Yezidi (Ezidi) religious community members at Mount Sinjar while attempting to escape ISIS.