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Review: Zagros (2017)

Directed by: Sahim Omar Kalifa | 102 minutes | drama | Actors: Feyyaz Duman, Maaike Neuville, Aziz Çapkurt, Halima Ilter, Suat Usta, Yusuf Çetin, Steve Van Nuffel, Serkaut Mustafa, Daria Hachem Mohamet Gulli, Leyla Batgi, Karl Ferlin, Brader Musiki, Elvan Kocer, Munip Seven,

The Kurdish Havin prefers to call her husband Zagros “shepherd,” after his profession. The way in which she does this can be called loving, almost poetic. This woman has not fallen on her mouth and is clearly the boss of the relationship. You can see this in subtle glances, beautifully portrayed by the Belgian filmmaker of Kurdish descent Sahim Omar Kalifa.

The in the harrowingly moving “Zagros” is abruptly set in motion, when Havin, while Zagros is in the field, is grounded by the village elders, say, simply kidnapped, because she would have gone into the mountains without a man. It is not without reason that this independent woman wants to move to Istanbul or Izmir. Or is there more to it?

It soon becomes apparent that there is a cousin in Belgium with whom Havin has contact, to start a new life – without Zagros, from whom she says she is too different. Since Zagros and Havin are married, have a daughter and she is pregnant with a second one, this naturally hits the shepherd hard. Yet Havin leaves, leaving Zagros bewildered but hopeful: he will travel to her and daughter Rayhan.

What inspires a woman from the Turkish-Kurdish mountainous region to deal with her husband and in this way in a culture of honor killing? Apparently respectfully Havin Zagros tells her plan, and the woman seems utterly convinced of the need to build a new life in Belgium – the viewer with her. Zagros loves Havin and believes every word. And the viewer with him; that is perhaps the most special.

Kalifa plays with the viewer’s sympathy, avoids clichés about escaping origin, and focuses on interpersonal dynamics: the beautiful, worldly Havin is an opportunist, the unworldly shepherd Zagros an idealist; you find such dynamics everywhere between lovers. Kurd or Belgian, that doesn’t really matter, Kalifa seems to say; everywhere the same interests prevail and sometimes love.

Main characters Halima Ilter (Havin) and Feyyaz Duman (Zagros) are very adequate; there is a serrated form of chemistry, as if the two cannot live without each other but have also dozed off. Havin has flair, Zagros has genuine dedication – as is so often the case in relationships. And Kurds distrust the same as Westerners, because the heart only knows one color. It’s the same color as that of revenge.

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