The 2021 edition of the Duhok fest announced its winners on Monday.
Arsalan Amiri won the award for best director and Navid Pour-Faraj received the award for best actor, both for ‘Zalava’, at the 8th edition of the Iraqi event.
The award for best Kurdish documentary went to ‘Holy Bread’ directed by the late Rahim Zabihi from Iran.
The award for best actress was given to Maryam Boubani from Iran for her role in ‘The Dance of Ali and Zin’ by Turkish director Mehmet Ali Konar.
‘Zalava’ narrates an imaginary story in an imaginary land with imaginary people in the 70s.
The inter-genre film narrates the tale of people’s fear of an unknown phenomenon and their efforts to bring back security to the region.
A tagline on the movie reads, “When a village claims to be cursed by a demon, a gendarmerie sergeant attempts to denounce the exorcist in charge, whom he believes is nothing but a fraud.
In 1978, in a small village called Zalava, some inhabitants claim there is a demon among them. Masoud, a young gendarmerie sergeant, goes to investigate. He encounters an exorcist attempting to rid the village of the demon. He arrests the exorcist on charges of fraud, but he finds himself stuck in a cursed house with his lover. The villagers, who believe they are both possessed by the demon, decide to burn down the house.”
In addition to Pour-Faraj, Pouria Rahimi-Sam and Hoda Zeinolabedin have played the key roles.
‘Zalava’ was premiered at the 39th edition of the Fajr Film Festival in Iran, where it won two awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Rahimi-Sam) and Best Screenplay (Amiri, Ida Panahandeh and Tahmineh Bahram).
The movie also went on screen at some global events, including the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, the Chicago Critics Film Festival in the US, the Morbido Film Fest in Mexico, the Hong Kong Asian Film Financing Forum, the Venice International Film Critics’ Week in Italy, where it won the FIPRESCI International Award, and the Fantastic Fest in the US, where it received the best film award at the Next Wave competition section.
‘Holy Bread’ is about some cross-border couriers who try to make ends meet by smuggling goods into Iran.
On foot, they carry their loads along mountain paths that are rocky, steep, and either slippery due to snow or blisteringly hot. Along the way, many of them suffer injuries, die in blizzards, or are shot by border police.
The powerful scenes of the men’s journeys are matched by their harrowing stories. No one chooses to become a cross-border courier; it is simply an unavoidable consequence of not having any other form of work.
The documentarian followed the workers for nine years to document the impact of living like a human pack mule. ‘Holy Bread’ gives exposure to a group of mostly men, who, driven by poverty, hunger, and despair, operate in the margins of society.
‘Holy Bread’ won awards such as the Jury Award at the ZagrebDox International Documentary Film Festival in Croatia, the Club Alpino Italiano Golden Award for and the Peace and Human Rights Award of the main competition section at the Trento Film Festival in Italy, as well as Special Youth Jury Award at the Ulju Mountain Film Festival in South Korea.
Set to compete at the Autrans International Mountain Film Festival in France, it also went on screen at some global events, including the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in the US, Religion Today Film Festival in Italy, the Kurdish Film Festival Berlin in Germany, the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Canada, and the Trento Film Festival in Italy.
The Duhok IFF is an annual film festival held in Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Each year the Duhok IFF presents new and exciting cinema from the Kurdish Cinema and beyond.
The 8th edition of the festival was held on November 15-22, 2021.