Duhok International Film Festival runs through September 16. Photo: Rudaw
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region – Building bridges between Kurdish and world cinema, organizers of the Duhok International Film Festival (Duhok IFF) ensure a Kurd is sitting on each jury judging the festival’s offerings along with film makers and critics from around the world.
“It’s important to have a Kurdish judge on each jury for this region, especially in Kurdish films,” explained Duhok IFF Program Manager Bina Qeredaxi. “Someone who has knowledge about the culture here so when there is a discussion between jury members, perhaps this person can explain the vision for the rest of the members that’ll help everyone make the finest decision about the film.”
The Duhok IFF has four juries which are responsible for criticizing or judging six different competitions. On Sunday morning, the second day of the festival, a special press conference was held to explain criticism and its importance in developing independent films as well as awarding in the film industry.
“Criticism is really not a negative process. People tend to think if you criticize something, you only show the bad parts,” Alin Tasciyan explained to the audience. “If you talk about a film for example, it’s an evaluation, it’s an analysis, and it’s a kind of revelation and maybe in some ways a translation. It is clearer than the film itself.”
Tasciyan, from Turkey, is president of the International Federation of Film Critics. She hosted the press conference along with co-founder and Artistic Director of Duhok IFF, Shamal Sabri, from Duhok.
The World Cinema jury will judge world cinema fiction films. The Kurdish Cinema jury will judge Kurdish fiction films. The Documentary jury judges on two different competitions, both world cinema documentaries as well as Kurdish documentaries. Finally the Short Film jury judges short films for both world cinema and Kurdish cinema.
This year at Duhok IFF, the World Cinema and Kurdish Cinema juries each have five members while the Documentary and Short Film juries each have three members. Jury members came from across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Monetary awards can range from approximately $1,300 up to $10,000 depending on the category.
One of the top prizes is the $10,000 Yilmaz Guney Award given to the Best Feature-Length Film in the International Competition.
Yilmaz Guney is a Turkish born Kurdish director, actor, screenwriter and author who died in 1984. He had dedicated many of his works to the plight of the Kurdish and ordinary, working class people within Turkey.
Under Guney, Turkish cinema was revolutionized and Kurdish cinema was born with his works being awarded at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France. Duhok IFF will feature a special screening of a documentary about the life of Guney, The Legend of the Ugly King.
A German member of the Documentary jury, Director of Goethe-Institut Irak Thomas Kossler, told Rudaw English they have been a partner of Duhok IFF since its inception in 2012.
The Goethe-Institut is Germany’s official cultural institution and encourages cultural development worldwide.
Kossler said they support Duhok IFF by providing a monetary award for the Best Documentary Film in both Kurdish and World Cinema.
“The prize is meant to support the next project of the filmmaker,” Kossler explained. “If the filmmaker is showing a film in the festival, it means this film is already finished and they are probably working on something else, so it’s to help boost the development of their next film.”
Kossler also explained that this year the Goethe-Institut Irak wanted to develop its cooperation with Duhok IFF and will be launching the Nuhat program, offering professional mentoring and training to aspiring Kurdish filmmakers.
Two workshops on script writing and pitching ideas will be held.
“The concept in short is to bring experts from Germany, people with many years of experience in filmmaking and script writing to come here and give classes to students who have applied for the workshops,” Kossler said.
Special Nuhat film screenings will be shown Wednesday evening at the University of Duhok’s Convention Hall.