The following article was originally published in Rudaw.
Diman Zandi won the Best Actress award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival for her role in the 2016 film Reseba (The Dark Wind), portraying the harrowing plight of Yezidi women under the atrocities of ISIS.
Zandi, who is from Sanandaj in Iran, dedicated her award to all Yezidi women on her Facebook page.
The film is inspired by the events of August 2014 when ISIS militants invaded the Shingal region of Kurdistan and began persecuting the Yezidi population, a non-Muslim ethnic minority. Hundreds of men and boys were killed in cold blood while women and girls were abducted to be sold at markets and used as sex slaves.
Reseba follows the story of Reko and Pero (played by Zandi), a young Yezidi couple living in Shingal who are in love and preparing for their marriage. Their dreams and happiness abruptly come to an end when their village is invaded by ISIS militants who abduct Pero along with hundreds of other women and children. Reko returns home from working in a different village to realize his fiancée had been taken away.
The film follows Reko’s journey through ISIS controlled territory, war zones and refugee camps into Syria where Pero is finally found alive, and returns her to their village and family. The couple’s bittersweet reunion with their community and return to their original plans of marriage sets the core emotion of the film.
Despite the unwavering love and support from Reko and Pero’s family, they’ve come to realize that she is embedded in deep seated emotional trauma from her experiences with ISIS. Can Pero overcome her inner turmoil and return back to a “normal” life?
Writers and producer/director Hassan and Aktas wanted to depict the hardships that Yezidi women must endure when they reintegrate back into their society after facing the cruelty of war, suffering and abuse along with physical and emotional pain caused by ISIS.
The refugee crisis in the Middle East continues to be a complex topic across global media outlets with constant coverage of the war on ISIS.
In the heart wrenching narrative drama, Director Hussein Hassan and co-writer/producer Mehmat Aktas wanted to expose the actual portrait of the innocent people affected by the war with ISIS — especially the Yezidi minority who have endured the brunt of ISIS’s abuses
Reseba has won many other awards, including the UNESCO Award for Best Film at international film festivals throughout Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America.
This article originally appeared in Rudaw.