Is Kurdish cinema ready to break through boundaries?

This article originally appeared in Rudaw.

Narin Alan, born in Sulaimani and raised in Sweden, will soon star in her first film. ‘Paykary Dll’ (Structure of the Heart) tells the story of a woman forced into an arranged marriage.

Alan talked with Rudaw about the film and the challenges of being a woman in the Kurdish film industry, one where she is not ready to break through boundaries.

Rudaw: What made you participate in a Kurdish film?

Narin Alan: It was my childhood dream to be an actress. I tried to make films in Dubai many times, but I couldn’t because of some reasons. Then I took part in Kurdistan Fashion Week as a presenter. I was later asked to take part in a Kurdish film directed by Shwan Atuf. I happily accepted the request. It is an honor to play a role in a film alongside Shwan Atuf, Halwest, and Nizar Salami who are famous artists and produced very good work.

What role are you playing in this film?

I am playing a main role in the film. I play the role of a rich woman who is interested in a man. But her father declines the man and finally subjects her to a forced marriage. The woman is then being tortured by her husband and father. This is the story of the film.

What Kurdish or foreign actresses are you most impressed by?

Unfortunately I don’t know much about Kurdish actresses. I don’t know them well because there aren’t many Kurdish films, which is why good actors and actresses do not become known. I am very impressed by Sofia Vergara who plays a very beautiful role in films. I want to learn from her. I also love Angelina Jolie very much and I admire the roles she plays.

Is working with Shwan Atuf not difficult?

Shwan is like a school where people learn from. He is very passionate about what he does. He doesn’t care about fame. Instead, he wants the person who works with him to develop. This has given us much energy and passion. He was very patient with me in a film I participated in. He taught me about films, cinema, role playing, and being an actress. It is the first time Halwest is participating in a film. Shwan has supporting us very much. He teaches many people about the art of cinema. It is true he is irritable, but we learned even from his anger.

Kurdish producers always complain about the lack of a brave woman to break with the traditions and tear down these cultural boundaries. Can you do this?

I don’t believe I will break these boundaries otherwise people will look at me differently. There might be holding hands and hugs in our film. Our society has not yet reached a level where kissing or hugging in Kurdish films is tolerated. And I don’t know whether this will be okay in the future. Anyway, these acts are premature for our society.

What distinguishes this film from other Kurdish films?

I think this film will be a great success because it contains music and songs that I haven’t seen in other Kurdish films. Shwan knows about this better. Our film contains comic and romantic scenes as well as crying. And these features fascinate audiences.

Is the character of the woman you are playing in the film close to your own?

The character of the woman is very close to that of mine. We have the same characters. That is why I wasn’t tired playing her role. I have played the role the way I act in my normal life. In the film, the woman is very mischievous like me. However, the story and the role the woman plays in the film doesn’t represent me as a person. Only the character of the person resembles me.

How is it like playing a role alongside Halwest? What did you learn from him?

I enjoy working with Halwest because he is very professional. He has helped me a lot and gives me energy. We work for over 18 hours some days. He urges patience. He is a very calm person. His participation as a singer in the film is very important. It will draw his fans to go to the cinema.

This article was originally published in Rudaw.

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