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Music bridges cultures, says Estonian filmmaker moved by Kurdish folklore

By Rudaw 3/11/2018
Estonian filmmaker Anna Hints speaks to Rudaw at the Duhok International Film Festival in October. Photo: Rudaw
Estonian filmmaker Anna Hints speaks to Rudaw at the Duhok International Film Festival in October. Photo: Rudaw
Anna Hints is an Estonian film director, screenwriter, and folk singer. She took part in last month’s Duhok International Film Festival with her first short film Ice (Jää). 

Ice tells the story of an Estonian soldier, divorced and seeing his 10-year-old son only during school holidays. He decides to take his son on an adventurous winter trip to an island, crossing the frozen sea on an ice road.

The following interview, done on the sidelines of the festival, has been edited.

Rudaw: This is your first time visiting Kurdistan and participating in the festival. What do you think of it? 

Anna Hints: It's very, very nice to be here. I'm really honored. Before coming here, my only information about Kurdistan was from European media that tells only terror stories. Now when I'm here, I experience, thanks to the festival, the real Kurdistan that is so respectful, beautiful, rich in culture and heritage. And I am really honored and happy to be here.

Let’s now talk about media in Estonia. Your movie is competing in the international short films category in the Duhok festival.  Have you spoken to media in your country?

Besides a film director, I'm also a folk singer so I carry a strong, rich heritage of folklore inside me. And yesterday I saw a documentary about Kurdish folklore and I was hearing the songs and I was crying. It touched my heart. I feel that music can really unite people. Our soul as human beings is the same. You can have a different culture, you can have a different religion, but we are human beings. We have the same heart.

Will you tell these things to your media? Estonian media and the media that pay attention to festivals in Europe?

Now I want to go back and I want to tell about Kurdistan. I want to tell people that Kurdistan is different than the rest of Iraq and Islam is not about terrorism. I wish that Estonian media – that I can do something to open their minds.

Do you have a project, in the form of a song, a video clip, create a musical mixture with Kurdish music or a film in Kurdistan?

Yesterday when I saw that film, it touched me and I thought it would be lovely to do a film one day mixing and coming together these two cultures.

Let’s talk about Ice. Can you tell me about the story?

Ice – it is a reunion story of a father, an army soldier who has also been in Iraq fighting, and the reunion of him and his 10-year-old son and after their very painful divorce and separation. The movie, all of this takes place on the frozen sea. It's very, very cinematic. For me, the message is that life is like the ice.  You think that it can carry us, but every moment it can break. So life is very fragile and we really have to cherish every moment and not put our efforts into hate and fights, but on love because at the end of the journey, what matters is how much we remember to love each other.

The festival explores the topic of the role of women in cinema. What is your opinion on this issue?

I am so fascinated by this festival. I have seen so many powerful stories on women, powerful, powerful women, female directors, telling their stories. That has really, really inspired me. Actually, I am working on my first long films that have to do with violence against women. I feel so connected with women all over the world. I hope one day there will more and more female Kurdish film directors.

There are a lot of women’s issues in Kurdistan. Some of these issues occasionally get adapted into films, trying to resolve the issues and difficulties through cinema. What women’s issues are there in Estonia for cinema to pay attention to?

Right now more and more females are also being directors and it is improving. The government is really putting money for cinema because cinema is so strong, you know, it travels to festivals and carries messages. I think the situation in Estonia is much better. But after the Soviet Union collapsed, it was very difficult. We didn't have our own film institute. But now we have our own film institute and that is one thing that can help in Kurdistan, that really strong film education so that more and more young people can go there, so that also females can go there. In Kurdish history and culture is so special, so I hope that you continue to make films using that uniqueness.


ICE- teaser (English subs) from oriGine films on Vimeo.


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