2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: A FLAG WITHOUT A COUNTRY

flag without a countryTuesday’s Sundance doc preview closes out: From Iraq, A FLAG WITHOUT A COUNTRY, Bahman Ghobadi’s dual, hopeful portrait of modern day Kurdistan.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

For Nariman the pilot and Helly Luv, an aspiring singer, being Kurdish is not just an identity; it’s a full-time job. Nariman needs young recruits for his flying school – a goal made darkly comic since he just survived a plane crash – while the illustrious Helly collects Kalashnikov rifles and a sea of Kurdish flags to produce her music video. In the midst of another war against the Kurdish people, Nariman reminisces about a long-lost love, and Helly finds herself connecting with Kurdish children at a refugee camp near the Syrian border, who are in urgent need of inspiration and hope.

Lauded director Bahman Ghobadi ignites the pathos in a situation and then magically transforms it into joy. He masterfully clouds the lines between fiction and documentary by filming reenactments with his trademark camera and by casting ordinary characters as themselves. A timely and humanist portrait, Ghobadi’s newest work skirts the politics and instead creates a graceful reminder of the Kurdish people’s resilience and an ode to their collective creativity.

Some Background:
Director/Producer/Editor: Bahman Ghobadi
This marks Ghobadi’s first film at Sundance. A renowned filmmaker, the Kurdish-Iranian director’s previous work, including NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT PERSIAN CATS, HALF MOON, TURTLES CAN FLY, and A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES, have won several awards at Cannes, as well as at Berlin, Rotterdam, Tribeca, and San Sebastian, among other events.

Editor: Batin Ghobadi
The director’s young brother made his feature directorial debut at Toronto last year with MARDAN. His short film ASK THE WIND received an award at Berlin.

Why You Should Watch:
Though their stories never quite intersect, Ghobadi’s central characters share an explicitly aspirational quality within the film’s refugee camp setting, offering a sense of hope despite the despairing conditions within which they find themselves. Moments of humor from Nariman and his troubled flight school recruitment efforts provide a welcome relief from the reminder of conflict, while Helly Luv’s provocative music video offers a spirited reminder of Kurdish heritage and pride.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the link in the first paragraph.

Presently, the film does not have a website, Facebook page, or trailer. Should this change before the festival kicks off, I’ll update that information here.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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