The Dream Betrayed Me
In Qamishli in the north of Syria in 2004, twenty-year-old Mesto, a talented football player, dreams of joining the local club. Despite his skills, however, he is not selected by the officials because he is a Kurd, which means he has no identification papers. When Qamishli’s team plays a match against their arch-rivals from the neighbouring town, a player is injured – an emergency that prompts the coach to ask Mesto to step onto the pitch. After about ten minutes of play, Mesto unexpectedly scores but his joy is short-lived when a riot bursts out in the stands between rival fans and several people are killed. The event quickly ignites a rebellion demanding more rights for Kurds. While his dreams of playing football are swept aside, Mesto becomes the symbol of the Kurds’ struggle against the Syrian regime.
Following the 2004 riots in Qamichli, my father was imprisoned with thousands of activists. I was sixteen years old. Taken away by the intelligence service, I was questioned about my family's political activities. The riots in question have never been reported, yet they changed the fate of hundreds of families, mine among then. In 2015, images of Kurdish fighters suddenly appeared on screens around the world, as if these freedom fighters had fallen from the sky. As a result, I wish to sketch a portrait of a Kurdish society that has been deprived of its identity and culture for half a century – and that continues to be threatened. Hence, I have chosen to build a story around the Qamichli riots, which allow us to question the future of today’s youth and to understand the paths they have had to take. Like Mesto, for generations, many young Kurds have been deprived of their dreams and desires because of the conditions in which they found themselves.
Born in Qamichli, Syria in 1988, Mohammad Shaikhow is a screenwriter, director and cinematographer based in Paris. He graduated from the Kurdish Film School in 2013 and received his MA in directing from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Audiovisuel (ENSAV) in 2017. His award-winning first short film, Hevi, had its premiere at the Carthage Film Festival in 2018, after which it was selected for the Doha Film Institute’s Qumra programme, the Tampere Film Festival, Les Nuits de Med in Paris, the Festival International du Film Oriental de Genève, the Haifa Independent Film Festival, and international film festivals in Cambodia, Duhok and Pyeongchang, as well as more than 50 festivals around the world. Between Two Heavens, his second short film, is currently in production and was a finalist pitch project at the Festival de l’écrit à l’écran in 2019.
Mehmet Aktas was born in Turkey in 1966. He is a producer and the director of the production company Mîtosfilm in Berlin. His 2016 production The Dark Wind won the Muhr Award for Best Fiction Feature at the Dubai International Film Festival and the Grand Newcomer Award at the International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg, as well as the UNESCO Cultural Diversity Award at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA). Memories on Stone (2014), directed by Shawkat Amin Korki, was named Best Film from the Arab World at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Best Film at the Antalya International Film Festival and won the UNESCO Prize at APSA. His other credits include Hisham Zaman’s Before Snowfall (2013), which won the Dragon Award for Best Nordic Film at the Göteborg Film Festival, and Bahman Ghobadi's No One Knows About Persian Cats (2009), which won the Special Jury Prize ex-aequo in the Un Certain Regard section at the Festival de Cannes.
March 2023, Iraqi-Kurdistan
Producer in France, distribution, regional funds, TVs