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Strong about escape

There is more drama, pain and suspense in Hisham Zaman's short film Bawke than in much of the Norwegian film year combined.


"Watching his films is like getting a reminder of his past life. It feels as if someone is trying to wake you up from a deep sleep with an earful, ”writes the Norwegian-Kurdish director Hisham Zaman about the Iranian-Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi. Now you get a rare opportunity to see both films in cinemas at the same time, and as Zaman points out: The two have more in common than the directing profession and the Kurdish language.

In the shadow of war

Ghobadis Turtles can fly is about daily life in a refugee camp in the Kurdish part of Iraq, on the border with Turkey. It is wartime, and the adults can only be sensed in the background. Instead, the arena is left to the elderly and children, where 13-year-old Kak, aka "Satellite", gets a leadership role due to his power of action and technical expertise.

He got the nickname because he connects the camp to the "world channels" using a satellite dish, so that the elders get to know what is happening in the wider world. Not least, they are starving for news about George W. Bush, and whether he decides to attack Saddam Hussein. The kids in the camp are otherwise left to fend for themselves, and here Satellite organizes the children so that they earn a penny by collecting mines from the areas around the camp.

Dark stories

Ghobadi depicts life in the shadow of war with unvarnished brutality, and the impression is enhanced by the use of amateurs. The actors themselves have experienced similar things in their lives, and the threatening mines come much closer when several of the actors lack both arms and legs. “They have to learn about war. It's war, it does not help with a white flag, ”says Satellite to the local teacher as he sets up a machine gun position right next to the outdoor classroom.

In parallel with Satellite's many plans and businesses, Ghobadi also tells the story of the mysterious cousin arriving at the refugee camp with a blind infant.

Turtles can fly is a dark and unsentimental story of childlike bravery and misfortune, told behind the scenes of blood, mud, gunpowder and human desperation. At the same time, it is characterized by both humor and zest for life, but when the Americans eventually invade Iraq, it is not certain that this means the type of "happy ending" the kids dream of.

Escape to Oslo

Norwegian director Hisham Zaman takes up the thread from the end Turtles can fly in the short film Bawke (Kurdish for “daddy”). It is shown as a pre-film, but thematically it is more like a sequel to count. Because here we meet life by the refugee camp, with refugees still in search of their own "happy ending".

I Turtles can fly Bruce Lee and football player Zinedine Zidane represent the great opportunities shown on the "world channels". Zidane in particular appeals, with his background as a Muslim immigrant. IN Bawke a football card with the same Zidane represents the European dream for the film's young boy, while for the father it represents danger. If they are caught, the police can track down their home country via the football card, and thus send them back.

In the short film, father and son hide under the driving frame of a truck, while an anxious and hurried camera follows father and son on the flight through Europe, until they end up on the subway in Oslo. The film is only 15 minutes long, but contains more drama, seriousness, excitement, pain, horror and commitment than the rest of the Norwegian film year combined. Minister of Culture Trond Giske wants more Norwegian feature films. I agree, but then we need more movies that kick as hard and brutally as Bawke. Give the extra grants to Hisham Zaman, Giske, so that we can also get feature films with the same political nerve and horror as Bawke.

Zaman has dedicated the film to "everyone who has to leave their homeland, their roots and their language to seek a better life." That is precisely why Bawke og Turtles can fly are so important. They are not just reminders of everyone who is fleeing their homeland; the movies also remind us why they flee.

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