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Filmmaker brings classic love tale to life with a twist

By Rudaw 30/1/2019
A still from Beri Shalmashi's film 'Shouted from the rooftops'.
A still from Beri Shalmashi's film 'Shouted from the rooftops'.
Beri Shalmashi is a Kurdish filmmaker from Iranian Kurdistan. She was born in France and was just one month old when her parents brought their young family back to the mountains. They lived there for two years before moving to Holland where Shalmashi grew up. 

Her short film ‘Shouted from the rooftops’ is about the Erbil uprising of 1991. 

The following is an edited version of her interview. 

Rudaw’s Hiwa Salah: What is the message you want to convey in your film ‘Shouted from the rooftops’?

Beri Shalmashi: The film ‘Shouted from the rooftops’ tells the story of a girl named Shirin who joins the battlefield and Ferhat who waits for her return on a rooftop. ‘Shirin and Farhad’ is a love story about a Kurdish boy and girl who sacrifice everything for their love. In this film, Shirin sacrifices love for the sake of liberating her homeland.

This film was screened at the Sharjah Film Platform in the UAE. How was it received?

The audiences were very impressed by the film. Moviegoers are captivated by the story and bravery of Kurdish women. Erbil alleys are the best and most beautiful places for a film. I hope these neighborhoods stay the same and are protected.

Why did you choose Erbil to capture the story?

I have long been impressed by Erbil and its ancient citadel. I wanted to portray Erbil in the film as a symbol of resilience and sacrifice. In addition, the story of the film was about events of 25 years ago. So, the Arab neighborhood and its surrounding areas were very suitable to depict that time.

Why have you named the characters ‘Shirin and Farhad? [Editor’s note: The tale of Shirin and Farhad is a classic love story often compared to Romeo and Juliet]

I wanted to revive this great legend in a new form. In such legends, men are normally the dominant force. I wanted to cast the film from a woman’s perspective, in which the woman is the heroine of the legend. I chose the names Shirin and Farhad because I wanted to give Kurdish names to my characters.

What are you working on now?

My latest project is a new film ‘The big village,’ which is a true story. My parents and I lived in this big village for two years. We spoke to the Peshmerga who were there at the time. That is why I think it will be a good film.

Why did you choose a Turkish actress to play the role of Shirin's sister? 

We have very good actresses in Kurdistan. The Turkish actress I chose is very talented and suits the role of Shirin's sister very well. In addition, she lives in Holland so we had a better opportunity to rehearse the role. At the end of the day, I introduced this Turkish actress to the situation of a nation through this film. She came to Erbil, made connections with our culture, and learned Kurdish. And this is a good thing.


John Bird | 31/1/2019
It’s surprising, almost annoying, that the main role in a film about the heroism of Kurdish women is given to a Turkish actress! Yes, it’s encouraging to see her put the effort into learning Kurdish language for the role, but this barely compensates for hijacking the role of a Kurdish woman. If you can’t find a Kurdish woman acting that role, then how can you convince your viewers that such Kurdish heroine can exist in real life? It’s also hard to imagine the woman joining the battlefield while her man is waiting for her return on a rooftop! The plot is too contrived.
A filmmaker | 31/1/2019
Actually, “John”, the heroine is played by a local Kurdish girl. Watch the film before you start judging.
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