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The Apostrophe: Crossing the Dust, another attempt at a political movie.

Byline: Ferhad Pirbal

Crossing the Dust

Scenario Director: Shawkat Amin Korki

Producer: Narin Film and the KRG Ministry of Culture

Filming Director: Turaj Aslani

Music: Muhammad Raza Darweshi

Montage: Ibrahim Sahidi

Sound Design: Behroz Shahamat

Production Director: Hassan Ali

Cast: Adel Abdul Rahman, Hussein Hassan, Abdullah Ubed

Shawkat Amin Korki was born in 1973 in Zakho-Kurdistan. In 1975, he and his family escaped to Iran fearing the repression of the Iraqi army, and they remained there until 1999. He studied in Iran and graduated in 1995 from Young Cinema Institute. He works in theatre, television, and cinema in Iran and Kurdistan. Many of his films were in festivals in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, Lipzique in Germany, Tehran, Rotterdam, Mons, Belgium), Fajr, Iran, Cairo, Milano, and others. Korki became the head of the first Kurdistan short film festival.

Current Kurdish cinema is political; in a general way it has a political content and way of thinking. KorkiAEs Crossing the Dust is a new step in the field of creating a political movie and a new attempt to strengthen this new cinematic genre.

The characterization of the Kurdish question in Kurdish society and the problems of the people in Kurdistan that are directly related to the situation of Iraq and generally to the area (Turkey, Iran, and Syria) have an obvious role in making Kurdish cinema political. In other words, since the Kurdish attitude toward life is political, the political way of thinking becomes an organic factor in the Kurdish cinema.

From here, we can surmise that Kurdish directors are steadily preferring to work on movies with political intent. And this sort of political cinema is a strong reason behind Kurdish movies being warmly received at festivals, even though the political intent causes problems and issues with negotiations occasionally.

Since the dissolution of Saddam HusseinAEs power, the jurors responsible for analyzing films at European and other global festivals warmly receive movies produced in Iraq, Iran, and the Third World, especially films that are critical of the past, because filmmakers are no longer denied their freedom of expression in these countries.

Crossing the Dust is the first film of Shawkat Korki produced with the assistance of the Kurdistan Regional Government. He received dozens of prizes at international festivals by criticizing the past. In spite of this, this Kurdish political film has caused many disagreements in political centers and especially in Arabic centers.

Being awarded festival prizes proves that the movie is important not only because of its political content, but also because of its technical and artistic value.

The beauty of this narrated film is that the scenes, characters, plot, and events are created within the deepness of a fierce war (at the time of the dissolution of SaddamAEs power). KorkiAEs camera portrays realistic scenes, the short stories of life, memories, several events, and many human beings through modern thought.

It has a tragic structure and a loving, human plot: When two Kurdish Peshmargas attempt to get a meal for their friend, they meet an Arab child, separated from his parents in the chaos of war. In a moment of great humanness, during a harrowing and dangerous attempt to take the child back to his parents, one of the two Peshmargas loses his life.

Although the film is a pure attempt to reacquaint Kurds with Iraq, Arabic magazines, newspapers, and intellectuals regard KorkiAEs vision in the film as making fun of the Arabic nation and degrading Arabs in front of the world.

Before KorkiAEs film, another Kurdish film entitled Kilometer Zero directed by Hunar Saleem stirred unrest in Arabic centers to the extent that it was not allowed entry into the Dubai Festival for Films. It was considered against the unity of the Iraqi land because of a scene at the end in which the Iraqi flag is torn apart by a tired and oppressed Iraqi soldier, the hero of the movie.

Crossing the Dust is the complete opposite to Kilometer Zero. After 15 years of separation from Iraq, Korki unifies Kurds with the Iraqi land and insists on the unity of the Iraqi land, and he stresses the friendly relationship between Kurdish and Arabic nations. In spite of that, Arabic centers including Sharq Al Awsat, Al Sabah, Al Madaa, Al Quds Al Arabi, Al Mawqif, Al Arabi, BBC, Islam Online net, Al Ahram, and others criticized and wrongly interpreted the film, concluding that it was Anti-Arab or Anti-Iraq. Arab intellectuals and those in cinema called the film a betrayal and considered Korki a collaborator. However, French film director Allen Frer said of Crossing the Dust: oThis is a very good film; it teaches us how to be good men and protect our humanity during war time.o

After experiencing films by Saleem and Korki, itAEs evident that Arabic centers, including their intellectuals and journalists, have analyzed Kurdish culture and works in such a way that they have degraded Kurdish attempts to unify Iraq, and strengthening of the Kurdish-Arabic relationship by the Kurds is falsely considered by the Arabs. KorkiAEs film is an obvious clue to make us understand that tearing the Iraqi flag apart by the hero in Kilometer Zero was righteous or blameless.

My last noticeable point about award-winning Kurdish political films is that showing the Kurdish question via cinema or showing that the Kurds have their own right to receive independence and freedom is something routine and obvious. LetAEs not cry for the past. I ask those in Kurdish cinema and artists in Kurdish cinema: IsnAEt it time for us to obtain our artistic creativeness and success through cinematic creativeness, not from the Kurdish political question? CanAEt we make the experience of Yelmaz Guney (a Kurdish director in Turkey) an example for this purpose?

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Publication:The Kurdish Globe (Erbil, Iraq)
Date:Jul 7, 2008
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