The Dark Wind - A film about the Iraqi Yazidi women's suffering after capture by jihadis

An Iraqi-Kurdish film about the effects of the attacks on the Yazidi community by the Islamic State Group in 2014 in Sinjar screens on Thursday at the International Festival of Asian Cinema, Fica. Reseba (The Dark Wind), directed by Husssein Hassan, is one of nine films competing for main feature film award.

Still from The Dark Wind by Hussein Hassan
Still from The Dark Wind by Hussein Hassan DR

Reka and Pero are in love and their parents have agreed to their marriage.

But the jihadist Islamic State (IS) armed group kidnaps Pero along with other young women in the Yazidi community and sells them as slaves.

They suffer all kinds of abuse and humiliation, including rape.

Pero’s family and her fiancé try to help her get over her trauma with their love and care. Some other members of the community repudiate her.

Iraqi-Kurdish director Hussein Hassan and cowriter Mehmet Aktas build their story from witness accounts.

Changed plans after meeting refugees

Aktas says they stopped work on another film when they encountered people fleeing. They had a sense of urgency. They decided against making a documentary, however, because the girls could not be identified for fear of causing harm to their families.

“We met several Yezidi girls who had been victims of IS group," he says. "The actress who plays Pero, Diman Zandi, went to a womens’ refuge and they spoke to her more easily. Every day she went there and came back to explain to us what they told her had happened to them and their psychological situation. We were still writing the script when we were shooting the film.”

Filmed in Iraq

The film, a psychological drama, is filmed in real UNHCR refugee tents in Iraq with displaced people and refugees as extras.

The five-month siege on the Yazidi community by IS in the Sinjar mountains near the Iraq-Syrian border lasted five months from August to December 2014. They were saved by local Kurdish and Iraqi forces backed by US airstrikes. So the news reports are relatively fresh in people’s minds.

The Dark Wind had its première in 2016 at the Duhok Film Festival in the autonomous Kurdish territory in Iraq.

Selected for several festivals

During the first screening, some Yazidis protested, claiming that the film portrays them in a negative light. Since then the film has been chosen for showing at several international film festivals, including as the closing film in the flag-bearer of Asian cinema festivals, Busan in Seoul, South Korea.

The film connects audiences to the traumatising effects of war.

It describes women's vulnerability and strengths, family bonds and traditions that can help heal as well as judgemental attitudes that can destroy.

It’s a committed and tender love story that almost softens the blow from the harsh experiences upon which it is based.

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