Kurdistan Bloggers Union "I prefer to play with the invisible" - Kurdistan Bloggers Union

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Monday, June 27, 2005 

"I prefer to play with the invisible"

As the movie could be seen in September in France a booklet of presentation has been already published. I just reproduce the interview, though many of the talking could have been red here and there. The movie is announced on memento.film.com, too. Moreover, I know that Hiner Saleem will come to Kurdistan in July, to present his work. So Kurdistani, be aware !


What was the genesis of the movie ?
When Saddam Husein fall, I was in Armenia, where Vodka Lemon was shot. I had only one desire, at this time : being there, with them. As soon as I came back in France, I decided to go to Iraq and to return to Kurdistan. I 've talked about it around. Everybody found the project very attractive. So I went, without waiting for funding. I went without knowing if I would spent two or eight weeks. I stayed four months.

What is the origin of the story of this man who go to war ?
At the origin, it is my brother's story who deserted Iraqi army. So I started with this character of soldier against his own will and I developped the scenario bit by bit while I shot the movie.

Coming back in the country that you left more than twenty years ago, what were your feelings ?
I had been through many emotions, quite violent. During five minutes, I cried for joy by seeing the Kurds free. Five minutes later, I was exasperated to constate how they refuse to accept the fragility of their situation. But after five minutes again, I was overcomen by the joy to see them free and happy.

What kind of obstacles have you met ?
The biggest problem was to find a camara and negative. There was not one single camera which could work in all the country. You have to know that, all along its history, Iraq did not produce more that five movies. So we had to cope, and do it quickly. Nobody could foresee how the situation would evolve.

Though its conditions of realization, Kilometre Zero is brightly achieved with numerous sceneries...
It is a road-movie. So yes, we had shot in many places, with a lot of sceneries and extra... Kurdish authorities helped us. The action is set at the end of 80's, a short time before the end of the war against Iran. So it is a period movie, we had to recreate all a world which has disappeared now. When I came, it was not already possible to find a uniform of Saddam's army. Even his pictures were unobtainable... I fled the country when I was seventeen, things have much changed. For example, the national hymn is not the one I knew when I was a child. A technician made me the remark. It is the same thing concerning the flag. Saddam's Iraq had had three versions of the same flag. The coloured strips changed of direction, a star had been added ... So we had to remake it, without forgetting the spelling mistake on the calligraphy '"Allah is the Greatest"... Saddam himself wrote it with his own blood, and no one had the courage to tell him that he was wrong...

You had to flee your country. Was not it painful to work with these omnipresent Saddam's portraits ?
But I live always with him ! He was everywhere, on books, exercise books...Wherever you look at, you could see his picture, on a throughbred horse brandishing a sword, in military uniforme a Kalachnikov in his hand, knelt toward Mecca on a prayer carpet...We knew all his titles : "president commander, knight of the Arab nation and guard of its Eastern gate, victorious of the Zionists, pride of the Tigris and the Euphrat..."

Where did you find this statue of Saddam ?
I made it make...All the Kurdish sculptors refused. I had to persuade an Arab sculptor. It took 2 weeks for finding one who did accept. For obvious reasons of safety, it was unthinkable to make cross all the country to a giant statue of Saddam, we thus decided to move the workshop of the sculptor.He went to Kurdistan, in a house, and worked in the garden. When the statue began to take its real size, the head raised above the wall and the security immediately arrived. "Our Saddam" had been confiscated and the sculptor imprisonned. I had to explain myself with authorities to make him release.

In the most unbearable situations, under the fire in trenches war, you are able to make laugh. As if you tinct the most tragic trials with humour and lightness...
I speak about very serious, very deep subjects, but I try to present them with their own simplicity. I did not want make something spectacular with war scenes. I don"t play with the sensationnal, nor strong emotions. I prefer to play with the invisible.
As for humour, I perhaps inherited that of my grandfather. He said : "Our past is sad, our present tragic, but fortunately we have no future." In the most tragic moments, we find ever a burlesque detail, an absurd situation. Kurds, like all people who had suffered a lot, use to see them. This humour help us to survive also.

Kilometre zero is a movie about dictatorship and war, based on pure and arbitrary violence. Why this choice to not show directly horrible crimes ?
Probably a question of decency. What I film, what I say, could not be compared with the rage that I bring in my heart. One day perhaps I will manage to express it.
In Kilometre zero, I did want essentially to recreate an atmosphere. To make breathe the perfume of the dictatorship. It would have probably easier to narrate a simple, concrete history. Each Kurd has dozens of such histories to tell.

How to define the relations between both men, the Kurdish soldier, a soldier against his own will, and his Arab driver?
Both are like two time bombs. We don't know when they will go off. In five minutes, five hours or five years... But we can be sure that they will go off.
Without our opinion being asked, we were annexed in Iraq and oppressed by a majority which does not cease refusing us what it claims for itself. I speak vainly their language, I do not know the Arabs. I know them only by political police and army.

Would you say that this movie is, more than the former's, a political movie ?
No, it is not a political movie... Even if I am a very political man. I watch the news with enthusiasm. I need to be informed all the time. But I am not a militant cineast. I am a passing creature on the earth, who looks at things and tells stories. In a certain way, I make cinema because I have not the power to change the world.
Above everything, I adore life. And by this love of life, I would like that my brother be free, that my sister be free. Then, I would be happy.

What means the titleKilomètre zéro ?
Kilometre zero says that we are still at the same point : Iraq has been invented 80 years ago, and since this time, the country did not make one step forward. It could be a reason to despair. Or to hope, if you prefer. When you start from zero, you can make nothing but advance.

Kilometre zero ends with an hopeful touch.
I rather say that it ends on a hopeful moment. I don't think that the film ends in reality. We don't know what will be the future. The regime of Saddam is fallen, and that is huge. But nothing assure us that the situation will be better. I would say that in the interval, during one moment, we have time to breathe..

We are trying to find good movie title to take the kids this weekend. Good movie title reviews are hard to find

I just stumbled onto your blog while looking. Seems to happen to me a lot since I am a knowledge mooch LOL


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