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“Rojek”: The eyes of Zaynê Akyol within the eyes of the Islamic State group

Zaynê Akyol is fearless. After having accompanied the Kurdish fighters to the entrance in opposition to the armed group Islamic State in Gulistan, land of rosesnow she appears to be like straight into the eyes of their enemy.

To comprehend Rojek, her most up-to-date documentary, the younger Montreal filmmaker spent 5 months in Syrian Kurdish territory and visited the prisons the place dozens of terrorists implicated in crimes by the IS group languish. Of the hundred prisoners she has met, about fifteen seem in entrance of the digicam. “I am the one one who was capable of meet them,” says the director of Kurdish origin born in Turkey. These jihadists, it was the Kurds who arrested them whereas they have been preventing for their very own territory on Syrian soil, she says.

Zaynê Akyol confirms it in an interview: this movie was “tough to make”. Not solely logistically, but additionally morally. “I actually positioned myself as an individual who tries to grasp and who had an attentive ear to what they have been saying. On the identical time, virtually all the ladies I had finished my earlier movie with had died preventing. And when individuals who died so violently, while you meet these criminals, it turns into emotionally tough. »

Blood on the fingers

At first, she says, she was making an attempt to grasp how and the place the protagonists of Gulistan, land of roses have been deceased. However the filmmaker in her has taken over. And all through the movie, his digicam, which movies his topics in very shut pictures, basically lingers to grasp what they’re saying, generally with the assistance of an interpreter.

Rojek opens with the testimony of a prisoner who tells how he went about looking goldfinches in his youth, with a internet and a radio to draw them. In an interview, Zaynê Akyol notes that this hunt appeared to him as a metaphor for his or her situation as trapped terrorists.

The jihadists that the filmmaker meets are usually not, nevertheless, altar boys. Considered one of them himself shot movies of the execution of prisoners, which served as a lot to recruit troops as to scare the enemy. Most are males. Their wives and youngsters are locked up in camps on the outskirts of the jail, as evidenced by sure girls that Zaynê Akyol met, all wearing black and veiled as much as their eyes.

One lady, nevertheless, is herself in jail for her crimes. In entrance of the digicam, she says that the 2 years she spent within the service of the EI group, during which she was extremely positioned, are “the most effective years of her life”. This lady is detained alone, explains the filmmaker, “as a result of the Kurds are afraid that she’s going to brainwash the opposite detainees”.

I need them to be tried by a global court docket. All governments are abdicating themselves [par rapport à ces criminels].

In any case, spiritual beliefs are on the sting of discourse. Lots of the prisoners come from overseas. Considered one of them says he got here into contact with the jihadist group by a Turkish mosque in Germany, then handed by Turkey to enter Syria. A Syrian lady detained in a camp recounts how she was bought by her household to a person when she was solely 13, to instantly turn into pregnant. The feedback on the paradise promised to the martyrs are additionally disturbing. Males after all dream of divine landscapes the place they’re surrounded by out there virgins. A girl – of Swedish origin, says Zaynê Akyol in an interview – says she desires of residing in a crystal home in paradise.

“Distinguishing the true from the false”

The filmmaker intentionally omitted to say the names of the protagonists and the crimes for which they have been imprisoned. It’s true that this data, though related, would essentially have coloured the viewer’s gaze.

“I used to be the miscreant in entrance of them,” she says. Some prisoners she approached refused to provide her an interview. “There’s a blond, blue-eyed German who would not even take a look at me. He stated it was a sin to take a look at a lady apart from his personal. Those that accepted did so for various causes. Some noticed it as a possibility to unfold their ideology or scare their opponents, she believes. “It’s a must to watch out with what they are saying. It’s a must to take it and depart it. »

She provides, nevertheless, that she allow them to say what they wished, and that will probably be as much as the viewer to “discern proper from improper”.

A number of the prisoners met in Rojek have already been judged. However a number of haven’t had a trial, particularly as a result of the Kurdish authorities have neither the infrastructure nor the personnel to prepare them. And the international locations of which they’re nationals haven’t indicated their intention to repatriate them both, a course of sophisticated by the truth that the Kurdish authorities isn’t acknowledged in every single place on the planet.

“I need them to be tried by a global court docket,” says Zaynê Akyol. “All governments are shedding their obligations” in relation to those criminals, she laments.

Rojek (Arabic VO, s.-tf)

★★★★ 1/2

Documentary by Zaynê Akyol, Quebec, 2022, 128 minutes. Indoors.

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