Dir.: Soleen Yusef; Cast: Mina Sadic, Sasun Sayan, Murat Seven, Wedad Sabri, Ahmet Zirek; Iraq/Germany/Qatar 2016, 117 min.
Writer/director Soleen Yusef was born to Kurdish parents, and emigrated to Germany with her family when she was nine. The intricate script is one of the highlights of this self-assured and densely plotted debut, a convincingly fraught road movie, which is actually her graduation film from the Baden-Würtemberg Film School.
After the fall of Sadam Hussein, Kurdish siblings Liya (Sadic), Jan (Sayan) and Alan (Seven) are not getting on well in their new life in Germany. Their mother Gule (Sabri) wants to go back with them to their Kurdish homeland, but the rather wayward Alan will have nothing of it. Gule dies suddenly and her Will reveals the request to be buried next to her husband – a hero from the war against Iraq in 1990 – on Kurdish soil. The three siblings cannot agree about anything so make their separate ways back to Duhok, where Liya meets a taxi driver, who will play a significant role in the forthcoming odyssey. They all finally come together in the house of uncle Ferad (Zirek), and it becomes clear that well-balanced Jan (whose wife is expecting a child back in Germany) has a secret. When Ferad categorically denies the siblings the right to bury their mother next to their father, the real facts starts to emerge about this so-called father who was anything but a hero: he was a traitor who took his own life. Their final journey back to the village is fraught with ups and down as the truth is finally revealed.
Yusef deftly masters her material, keeping the plot together, despite near-surrealistic incident made more bizarre by the awkward trio conversing in German. Liya, whose name means ‘Patience’ in translation, is just the opposite. DoP Stephan Burchardt’s lively handheld camera creates the right look for this topsy-turvy family drama, mixing close-ups mixed with long panning shots over the glorious landscape. Sadic leads the brilliant cast, never wavering from her efforts to put her foot down in a male dominated society – even if she has to copy some bad habits of the opposite sex. AS
SCREENING DURING EAST END FILM FESTIVAL 2018