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Home arrow Culture & Art arrow Kobani: Landscape of Resistance and Childhood Nostalgia
Kobani: Landscape of Resistance and Childhood Nostalgia چاپ ارسال به دوست
vokradio, Los Angeles, California, USA   

Kobani: Landscape of Resistance and Childhood Nostalgia





 By Dr. Amir Sharifi


July1, 2017







 The opening image of the film vividly shows endless rows of tents against a grey and menacing sky, engulfing refugees in a distance, with children inside a classroom in a new refugee camp. The young talented Kurdish filmmaker, Apo Bazidi, had gone to the refugee camp in Suruc as a volunteer in in 2014 in the thick of the battle for Kobane. Having just graduated from the prestigious film school of the University of Southern California, he wanted to help the refugees of the ISIS genocidal war against Kurds and to “record every day of his journey in the camps and on the front-lines to share their stories with the world”, which initially had turned away from facing the existential threat that Kurds faced. 





Inspired by the invincible and selfless spirit of resistance spearheaded by women, and shocked by the savagery of ISIS, Bazidi was keen on documenting the sufferings and horrors that the refugees faced daily, some of which were reflected in the drawings of the camp children, showing violent scenes and fleeing families in the midst of atrocities.


The result is a marvelous and mesmerizing film, partly visual ethnography, partly classic documentary, combined with archival history, war footages, poignant dialogues, and interviews with refugees and Kurdish freedom fighters during the legendary Kobane resistance, but all blend in scenes of agony only made bearable through the powerful and charming character of an eight year old child. When serving as a translator for Doctors Without Borders in the refugee camp, Bazidi meets a young girl who “appeared in front of my camera like an angel from sky and asked me if I wanted to tell her story. That was the moment when the heart and soul of this project became Evlin. She is a very unique and beautiful and powerful person. I had never seen such a courage and passion in any other child her age.”


Most of us have learned a great deal from films we watched in our childhood. But rarely have we seen a film in which a child with exceptional eloquence, intelligence, and kindness chronicles the lived experiences of war victims and refugees as an acute observer, participant, and narrator.


Berxwedan jiyane “Resistance is Life,” tells the compelling narrative of courage and optimism in the midst of carnage and war through Evlin’s unfiltered perspective. Evlin whose childhood has been disrupted if not indefinitely delayed faithfully documents the saga of the savagery that her family and other children who have fled the onslaught of ISIS. Equipped with a little red camera, she captures glimpses of difficult and dreadful yet hopeful life in the cramped refugee camp; her photographs of life and daily struggles elicit and incite visceral anti-ISIS sentiments even from the most impervious viewers.


As a traumatized precocious and reporter/narrator, Evlin insists that “I take pictures of the pain around me.” She recalls and recounts the horrors of ISIS war against the beauty of her landscape and her joyous and now nostalgic childhood memories, navigating between the despicable “facts” and bitter reality of a refugee camp and lost childhood fantasies. However, the jovial smart child refuses to be reduced to a defenseless victim just to dream of her beautiful home (land). Evlin embodies and epitomizes the vibrancy and humanity of Kobane as the city fights on and fends off the barbarity of the enemy. With her parents she joins marches, takes part in funerals, whispers songs of resistance, dances along, even cheerfully clads herself in the flag of resistance. In this sense, the title of the film “Berxwedan jiyane” Resistance is Life, is animated in Evlin’s euphoric identity, which comes about in the intersection of the ravage of the war and a growing popular and feminist resistance.


Viewers develop an admiration for the characters (Newroz, Aladdin, Hemude, Mustafa), Evlin, in particular as they are not performers or actors as such but ordinary refugees or freedom fighters with displaced and destroyed lives. Throughout the film Evlin’s cheerful and indomitable character becomes a metaphor for her hometown, Kobane, which proves to the world that barbarity cannot destroy humanity as long as there is love, happiness, and dreams. It is through Evlin’s story that viewers are drawn into penetrating personal experiences and truthful emotions of the characters. According to Bazidi what sets this documentary apart is not only the war from the perspective of children as “most honest people but also because … we have captured the resistance of Kobane from the start of the historic battle there until the moment it was fully liberated…. We wanted to tell the whole story.”


Despite the disfiguring shadow of war, Evlin and eloquent women become the unyielding hope and flame for defending and celebrating life and change in the face of ISIS ideology of death. The filmmaker and his crew (co-director Goran Zaneti, cinematographer Donato Bragagnolo, Bazidi, editing, Caffi, Bazidi, Okamura, Rosenfield) inspired by the vivacious Evlin interweave her narrative and visual symbolisms into images and a larger narrative of Kurdish freedom fighters, particularly women with their bold feminist visions and heroism to lay the ground for a brighter and braver world. The film ends paradoxically with Evlin standing, somewhat apprehensive and yet  longing to return to her hometown but is caught behind the barbed wire that separates her from Kobane and the refugee camp where she has to remain as her home has been destroyed.


“Berxwedan jiyane” Resistance is Life is an innovative and distinctive work that historically uncovers a daring and untold trajectory that comes to life poignantly through sincere and personal commitment to humanism, earning Bazidi and his team tremendous success. As he put it “The film has been very well received by the audience especially here in the U.S. We premiered at the Cleveland International Film Festival and held international screenings at the Ismalia International Film Festival in Egypt and Buenos Aires Political Film Festival in Argentina. We won two audience awards for Best Feature Documentary at the Dances With Films Festival in Hollywood and the San Francisco Documentary Festival, respectively. There are several upcoming festivals this year where we will have screenings.”









 Voice of Kurdish-American Radio for Democracy, Peace, and Freedom

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