British Films Come to Erbil

The British Consulate General in Kurdistan region launched the Second British Film Festival yesterday, in Erbil.

There was a strong turnout, including the President's brother Sidad Barzani, the Erbil Governor, and several KRG Ministers and top officials, as well as senior business and civil society figures.

Hugh Evans, British Consul-General in Erbil, and festival co-founder Phil Hunt, of London-based Bankside Films, launched the event. One of the main aims of the festival is to forge closer links with the region and develop local filmmaking talent.

The chief guest at the opened reception was His Excellency the Minister for Anfal and Martyr Affairs, Aram Ahmed Muhammad, who praised the festival as a further example of the close relations between Kurdistan and the UK.

During the festival, a series of workshops will be ran for young Kurdish filmmakers, together with students of the Cinema Department of Fine Arts College, Erbil. Fifteen films will be screened at the Royal Mall Cinema during the festival, with free admission for the general public.

“It’s an extraordinary and exciting relationship that is being built here between our industry and the people of Kurdistan,” said Phil Hunt. “We hope that the films we are screening will inspire and entertain in a way that will encourage local filmmakers and artists to engage with cinema and show us their own stories.”

“The UK Consulate, through the British Film Festival and other means, remains committed to help fostering the nascent film industry in Kurdistan. I know it is an objective we share with the KRG Ministry of Culture and other agencies.” said Hugh Evans, adding that “this year, once again, we will showcase a selection of modern (Monsters, Street dance) and Classic (James Bond – Dr. No, Great Expectations) British Films.”

The British Film Festival opened by premiering the movie Kulajo, a powerful documentary by acclaimed film-maker Gwynne Roberts which traces the devastating impact of Saddam Hussein’s notorious Anfal campaign on the lives of Kurds in one particular village. The movie focuses on the commentary of villagers themselves and includes the poignant recollection of one survivor whose life was saved by a group of Bedouin Arabs. The Minister in his opening comments, welcomed the showing of a Kulajo, ahead of the Kurdistan Government’s own official commemorations of the 25th anniversary, in March, of the Halabja attack.

(Source: UK FCO)

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