The Nashville Film Festival, presented by Nissan, today announced a partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a three-day Celebration of Kurdish films at NaFF 2013. Twenty filmmakers and dignitaries from the Northern Iraq region of Kurdistan will present Kurdish films in multiple events April 19, 20 and 21. The events, which are open to the public, will be heavily attended by Nashville’s large Kurdish population. The city is home to the largest population of Kurdish immigrants in the United States.
The “Celebration of Kurdish Films” plans to highlight the work of Bahman Ghobadi, renowned filmmaker known for his controversial films including Turtles Can Fly (2004) and Rhino Season (2012). The Cannes Film Festival has awarded him the Camera d’Or for his first feature film A Time for Drunken Horses (2000), and the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize for No One Knows about Persian Cats (2009). Ghobadi’s films have been labeled critical of Iran and he has been banned from that country. His brother was recently released from prison in Iran and his friend, journalist and author Roxana Saberi, was released from Evin prison in Iran after 100 days.
NaFF will screen nine Kurdish films during the three days, and will offer a reception for dignitaries, opening and closing night parties, plus master classes and panel discussions for filmmakers led by members of the Academy’s International Outreach Committee. Eyub Ramazan, General Manager for Arts, Culture and Youth in Duhok hopes “the event will build a bridge of collaboration between the American and Kurdish filmmakers.” Additionally, Ramazan underscored the importance of the event, “for the Kurdish community in Nashville to see the level their cinema has reached nowadays.” Nashville-Kurdish organizer Govand Akreyi-Wani says, “The Kurds have been an oppressed people. To see films by our people in our own language here in Nashville – it is just a big door opening for us.”
The celebration is a natural result of NaFF’s outreach efforts conducted with support from the Academy. In 2008, NaFF was awarded a $75,000 multi-year festival grant to expand its reach to Nashville’s diverse populations. NaFF has also been named an Academy Award® Short Film Qualifying Festival, which enables short films that win at NaFF to be given automatic Academy eligibility.
“The Nashville Film Festival has enjoyed incredible growth, which can be directly attributed to the ongoing support of the Academy,” says Executive Director Ted Crockett. “We are deeply grateful to the Academy’s partnership throughout the years as we bring to the large screen the visions and voices of the human spirit. We believe in bringing to Nashville the kind of films that change lives.”
“The Academy is proud to work with NaFF to bring Kurdish films and filmmakers to the U.S., and in particular to Nashville, with its vibrant and growing local Kurdish audience,” says Academy Director of Exhibitions and Special Events Ellen Harrington. “This is also a logical extension of the Academy’s International Outreach work, in particular our projects in the Middle East. We are happy to partner with important film festivals, like NaFF, who honor, as we do, the courageous and passionate movies being made by filmmakers around the world.”
UPDATE: Here’s the full lineup for the celebration –
If You Die, I Will Kill You (Director: Hiner Saleem) — In Paris’ cosmopolitan 10th arrondissement, Philippe, who’s fresh out of prison, crosses paths with Avdal, a Kurd trying to track down an Iraqi war criminal. The two men strike up a friendship. When Avdal dies suddenly and unexpectedly, Philippe finds himself left to organize the funeral arrangements.
Rhino Season (Director:Bahman Ghobadi) — A Kurdish poet, Sahel, is in love with the daughter of a wealthy family, Mina. Mina is also the object of her driver’s affection and the Iranian revolution approaches. When the driver becomes a high ranking revolutionary, he uses his power to jail the couple – Sahel for 30 years and Mina for 10. Upon her release, Mina is told that Sahel is dead and her former driver proposes to her. 20 years later, Sahel is released. He begins the search for his old lover.
Trattoria (Director: Soleen Yusef) — Nineteen-year-old Lea is honest, direct and not afraid of speaking her mind. She calls her father, Bosse. All she knows about him is hearsay provided by her mother, before her recent death. Bosse, a likeable small-time criminal and the owner of a trattoria, is shocked to learn of his ‘sudden’ fatherhood and tries to get rid of Lea. But Lea is too much her father’s daughter to take such a brush off lying down. On the pretext of looking for a job Lea manages to inveigle her way into the trattoria. Ali, the head chef and Bosse’s right hand man, takes the girl under his wing and somehow – oscillating between recognition, instinct and not-wanting-to-know – Bosse and Lea gradually manage to develop a relationship. Meanwhile Nazmi and Dana, two Kurdish henchmen sent to collect protection money begin turning up at the trattoria with alarming regularity and threaten Bosse’s business interests. Before long, things begin to get out of hand. With trenchant wit, TRATTORIA succeeds in turning the tables on the conventional mores of the mafia movie.
Where is the Land? (Director: Hushyar Z. Nerwayi) — In a small village near the Iraqi Kurdistan border with Turkey, Bewar’s wife, Bahar, finds herself pregnant with yet another girl. Having two daughters already, Bewar wants a son. Believing his wife can only produce girls, Bewar decides to take a second wife from a family he knows on the Turkish side of the border. The father of the prospective wife only agrees to the marriage if Bahar accepts. Bewar persuades Bahar to come with him and make the dangerous border crossing to Turkey. On the way, both husband and wife learn to cross their own personal borders as the previously submissive Bahar starts standing up for herself.
Kick Off (Director: Shawkat Amin Korki) — Inside a beat up stadium in Kirkuk, Iraq, live many refugees trying to escape Sadam Hussein’s administration. Asu lives with his younger brother who has lost his legs from a landmine. Next door lives Hilin, who has not been able to express her feelings. One of the only sources of happiness for these people who live amid fear of poverty and bombings is soccer. Asu gathers together the Kurdish, Arabs and Turkish in order to hold a soccer match. Although they are of different races, they become close neighbors.
In the Lion’s Den (Director: Fekri Baroshi) –In the Lion’s Den is a violent drama that explores the lives of adolescents growing up in the troubled city of Mosul during its most violent period after the reign of Saddam Hussein. Mosul is a divided city with half of the population loyal to Hussein, while the other half despises him. Two teens, two cultures, two drastically different paths.
The Guerilla Son (Director: David Herdies, Zanyar Adami) — For 23 years, Zanyar has been afraid to confront his father, Taher, with this question: How could Taher leave him in the midst of a war and then send him to Sweden all by himself? Any day now, Zanyar will become a father himself, and he knows that he can´t wait for the truth any longer. Together Taher and Zanyar return to Iraq.
Cheers to You (Director: Soleen Yusef)
Real vs. Barcelona (Director: Tofan Abubaker)
Stone Melody (Director: Parviz Rostami)
Bicycle (Director: Rizgar Hussein)
GhiGhoo (Director: Iraj Mohammadi Zarimi)
Dalya (Director: Shakhawan Abdullah)
The Other Ones (Director: Hisham Zaman)
Silence (Director: L. Rezan Yesilbas)
Nashville Film Festival (NaFF), April 18 – 25, 2013, presented by Nissan, brings the world to Nashville in an eight-day celebration of film. Attended by filmmakers and industry insiders, and open to the public, NaFF screens more than 200 films from nearly 50 countries. NaFF celebrates the diversity of the human voice and vision by curating program segments to include Kurdish, Latino, Black, GLBT and Jewish films. Founded in 1969 by Mary Jane Coleman, it is one of the oldest (44 years) film festivals in the U.S. As an Academy Award qualifying Festival, NaFF draws filmmakers and celebrity guests to its red carpet at the Regal Green Hills Stadium 16. The Festival annually garners notice from the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal online, MovieMaker Magazine, Film Festival Today, IndieWire, Variety, Billboard, New York and Script Magazine.
*Naff Logo courtesy Nashville Film Festival.