By Chris Bowers, British Consul General in Erbil. This article was originally published by Rudaw, and is re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.
Like all the best ideas, the concept for a British Film Festival in Kurdistan Region came from a chat between two friends over a few drinks a few months ago.
Those two friends were lucky enough that when we first gingerly mentioned it to the next circle of friends did not say: “What how can you have a film festival in a city where there are no cinemas?” rather said “What a great idea, let’s go for it!”
So, why hold a British film festival in Kurdistan Region?
Well, why ever not?
Erbil is the type of city that can now expect to host film festivals – given a bit of ingenuity.
We are bringing in professional projectionists who will convert the Saad Palace from a convention centre to a cinema between the 26-28 November. It could be said that we are taking Erbil back to its roots more than two and a half thousand years ago. British archaeologists have translated fragments of cuneiform text found in and around Erbil dating from the 7th century BC. One fragment, a poem, written by an Assyrian King describes Erbil as a ‘City of Festivals’!
Like all the best festivals, entry to the British Film Festival will be free and open to everyone: first come, first served. We are arranging Kurdish subtitles for the films.
It is a British film festival because there is a special bond between the people of Kurdistan Region and Britain. Film can reach out to people across cultures and speak to what unites us.