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Bulent Gunduz’s Kudistan-Kurdistan has its Metro-NY/NJ Premiere at the 2016 New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 12!


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 10/24/2016

Bulent Gunduz’s Kudistan-Kurdistan  has its Metro-NY/NJ Premiere at the 2016  New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 12!

Bulent Gunduz’s feature film 
Kudistan-Kurdistan has its Metro-NY/NJ Premiere at the 2016  New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 12!

Here is the 1st part of a 2-part interview with Kudistan-Kurdistan’s Director Bulent Gunduz:

Nigrin: Kudistan-Kurdistan is a sensitive feature film about the tension between tradition and modernity, and the difficulty of returning home.  Delil Dilanar, a singer of traditional Kurdish songs, has continued to keep alive a rich and complex musical style known as dengbej.  However, after 20 years of exile in Europe, he finds that his heart hasn’t followed him and he announces his return to his roots.  Once he finds himself back in Kurdistan, he falls into a deep depression, and he must turn to his old music master to find his way forward.  Your film feels like a documentary but is also a fiction film. Please tell us how you came to make it 

Gunduz: When Delil Dilanar, my close friend, finally was allowed to return to Turkey and was able to go to his birthplace in Kurdistan region of Turkey after twenty years of exile, he asked me to accompany him. His offer made me think of thousands of other Kurdish people from Turkey and other states that divide Kurdistan who have the same experience. So I decided to tell their story through Delil’s return to his birthplace.

I asked him to delay his return for a few months so I could prepare myself to write a scenario. Since I knew him and his experiences very well, it didn’t take too much time to structure a scenario. Delil is a musician who grew up with the traditional dengbêji music. The most amazing part of his art is that even though most of his music developed in Europe and America, his music style is most loyal to his original dengbêji roots. At the same time, interestingly, he superbly harmonizes music styles from both the East and West. His master, Egite Cimo, is an important inspirational figure in many ways for Delil. He encourages Delil to combine traditional Kurdish music with the instruments and melodies of the West. Indeed, as it is seen in the movie, Egite Cimo helps Delil to over come the feeling of alienation when he returns his birthplace in Kurdistan.



 
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Actually, I was not really thinking whether I should make this film “Kurdistan-Kurdistan” as a documentary or fiction. In this movie, since the actors are playing the role of themselves and the story is real, I preferred to let the fiction and reality work together. I was shooting most of the scenes from the reality, I would say. The rest is the film critics’ job to judge. I did my part which is to convey the story to people through cinema. This approach may get different reactions from different film critics.

We are telling a real story as everyone plays a role of his or her own. We also had some people who never saw a camera in their lives before they played in this movie. However, none of the above was an obstacle for us to tell their warm hart and their true love. If you could feel this atmosphere when you watch the movie, it is because all the players truly felt this warmth. They did not act – they just projected what they truly experienced and felt.

Nigrin: The music in Kudistan-Kurdistan is quite beautiful and feels like a character in the film as well. Do you feel the same way?

Gunduz: Kurdish music, especially the dengbêji (literally “voice telling”) tradition, plays a unique role for expressing Kurdish identity, and the music itself becomes as a separate actor in the movie, as you stated. In fact, Kurdish music has been playing an instrumental role in Kurdistan. Kurds and their language, culture, and history exist for thousands of years. But because the states that divide Kurdistan have banned Kurdish language for decades, many Kurds are still unable to write, read, or speak in their own language. Thus, the oral literature and music in Kurdistan have become the only venues for the Kurds to express their pain, joy, or traumas that they have experienced throughout history.

Kurdish music, especially the dengbêji tradition has served as the collective memory of Kurdish history.  This memory has passed to generations for centuries and kept Kurdish language and culture alive despite a wide array of bans placed not only on the Kurdish language but also socio political cultural activities throughout history. This oral literature tradition has preserved the Kurdish language and culture and passed it on from one generation to the next by a dengbêj (a person who sings dengbêji). Every dengbêj memorizes thousands of songs that are based on real Kurdish life and Kurdish history. It is an incredible way to preserve a whole nation’s memories. Therefore, each oral literature work in dengbêji, accompanied by traditional Kurdish instruments, nourished our leading role actors in my film “Kurdistan-Kurdistan” and appeared as a separate actor.

Kurdistan, Kurdistan Trailer



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The lovely short animated film A is for Aye-Aye: An Abecedarian Adventure will be screened before Kurdistan-Kurdistan. Here is more info on this screening:

A is for Aye-Aye: An Abecedarian Adventure – Augusta Palmer (Brooklyn, New York)   Iris, a curious, precocious and somewhat jaded nine-year-old New Yorker, is on a quest to find a space to exercise her imagination in the real world.  Wandering down Fifth Avenue, she spies the New York Public Library, walks through its doors, and then finds her way to the wondrous Picture Collection, an archive of over a million images. As she pulls a few images from the files, an engraving of an aye-aye suddenly springs to life and takes Iris - and the audience - on a transformative, animated journey. 2016; 14 min. With an introduction and Q+A session with Director Augusta Palmer!

Kurdistan-Kurdistan – Bulent Gunduz (Antony, France)  A sensitive feature film about the tension between tradition and modernity, and the difficulty of returning home.  Delil Dilanar, a singer of traditional Kurdish songs, has continued to keep alive a rich and complex musical style known as dengbej.  However, after 20 years of exile in Europe, he finds that his heart hasn’t followed him. During a concert in New York, he announces his return to his roots.  Once he finds himself back in Kurdistan, he falls into a deep depression, and he must turn to his old music master to find his way forward. In Kurdish, subtitled. 98 min.  2015. With a Special Musical Performance by Delil Dilanar!

Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.


Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University


71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey


$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends


Information: (848) 932-8482;
www.njfilmfest.com

Jimmy John’s of New Brunswick and Capitol Corn & Confections will be providing free food prior to all New Jersey International Film Festival  Screenings!

 




Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.

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