Reseba – The Dark Wind
Directed by Hussein Hassan
Muhr Award: Best Fiction Feature, 2016 Dubai International Film Festival
As the full repercussions of President Trump’s travel ban come to light in the States, the refugee crisis in the Middle East continues unabated and its complex nature perpetually maligned in the global media. What gets lost in the mix is a portrait of the people actually affected and that is precisely what director Hussein Hassan and co-writer/producer Mehmat Aktas grace us with in this heart-wrenching “ripped from the headlines” indie narrative drama. In fact, its recent North American premiere at the Miami Film Festival occurred without Hassan’s presence after he withdrew his visa application in an act of peaceful protest.
Based on true events in 2014 when ISIS terrorists invaded the Shingal region in Iraqi Kurdistan and persecuted the Yezidi, a non-Muslim ethnic minority, razing their community and kidnapping their young women to sell at slave markets, Hassan forgoes abstracted, macro-level storytelling in favor of the concentrated microcosm of a family melodrama and a love story, illuminating the unfaltering resilience of a people long sidelined as collateral damage. We feel the tremendous stakes on the line when the community affair of Reko and Pero’s bittersweet betrothal is disrupted by a terrorist takeover and the couple, their respective families, and their community are forced to flee from gunfire and an uncertain fate. Cinematographer Touraj Aslani lenses with documentary precision scenes of masses and lone figures in landscape shots to intimate moments on real locations (actual refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan were used as sets with the participation of the Yezidi community). Reko’s journey through different war zones into Syria to find Pero takes the curtain back for us to reveal unexpected influential players in an absurd war game while action set-pieces and taut suspense give the prestige Hollywood political action thriller (THE HURT LOCKER, ZERO DARK THIRTY) a serious run for its money.
The couple’s reunion, however, sets into motion the crux of the story: the revelation and escalation of Pero’s deep-seated trauma. The ripple effect of her violation tests both community and religious mores as her erratic behavior and victim status stigmize her as a bride-to-be and a good daughter of her people. Here, the actors’ various looks and the intimate camerawork convey brilliant, epic-scale emotions nearly rendering dialogue superfluous. Despite Reko and her family’s unwavering love, this shell of her former luminous self serves as an indictment of war’s unequivocal cruelty.
— Lindy Leong
Community Partner: Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)
HUSSEIN HASSAN is a Kurdish director, writer and actor. His first feature film NARCISSUS BLOSSOM (2006) was screened at the PANORAMA section at the 56th Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin and at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film was awarded with the Amnesty International Film Prize at the Berlinale. In 2009 Hassan finished his second feature film as writer and director called HERMAN which premiered at Pusan International Film Festival.
Producer: Mehmet Aktas
Director: Hussein Hassan
Writers: Mehmet Aktas, Hussein Hassan
Cinematographer: Touraj Aslani
Editor: Ebrahim Saeedi