Memories on Stone (Bîranînêm li ser kevirî)
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‘You have to be crazy to make a film in Kurdistan.’ So says one of the characters in Shawkat Amin Korki’s clever and engaging ‘Memories on Stone’, about fictional film director Hossein Hassan’s attempt to make ‘Anfal’, a story about the genocidal campaign waged by Saddam Hussein on the Kurds of Iraq. And indeed, this film-shoot-within-a-film is persistently plagued by Murphy’s Law – ‘anything that can go wrong, will go wrong’ – as the director and his crew battle a lack of funds, an egotistical pop star, in-family conflicts and even trigger-happy border guards in order to get their film made. They are driven by their passion to preserve their history – but will that passion be enough to get the film on the big screen?
Amin Korki very nimbly walks the line between comedy and tragedy in his third feature film. He maintains a light tone for the main thrust of his narrative, occasionally straying into moments of wonderful physical comedy and romance. But the film’s buoyant structure never forgets its dark and heavy cargo, and the story is repeatedly punctured by reminders of the Anfal campaign. At its core, ‘Memories on Stone’ is a powerful demand that the victims of Saddam’s ethnic cleansing be honoured, and that their terrible fate never be forgotten.