Kawa Akrawi – Director
Kawa Akrawi is a Kurdish filmmaker who has been committed to documenting social justice issues through film since 1995. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Kawa co-produced and directed two powerful documentaries, "Saddam's Mass Grave" and "Chemical Ali", which were filmed during his extensive travels through Iraq. "Saddam's Mass Grave" premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, earning critical acclaim for its raw and unflinching portrayal of the horrors committed by the Baath regime.
Kawa's more recent documentaries, including "Kuljo: My Heart is Bleeding" and "One Yazidi Family vs ISIS," have been broadcast worldwide on BBC World and Al Jazeera. As a field director and D.O.P, Kawa brings his unique perspective and empathy to these projects, capturing the struggles and resilience of marginalised communities in Iraq with great sensitivity and depth.
Gulan Akrawi – Producer
Gulan is a Kurdish journalist and TV producer with a remarkable career in promoting Kurdish culture and media. She gained recognition as the head of the cultural center HYS in Turkey, where she worked for many years before moving to Belgium to work at the Kurdish TV station STV, where she now serves as the head of broadcast. For over a decade, she has collaborated with filmmaker Kawa Akrawi on several documentary projects that highlight the experiences of the Kurdish people. These projects cover a broad range of topics such as Kurdish history, politics, and culture.
Making The FilmAfter completing a film about a Yazidi family fleeing from ISIS massacres in Iraq in 2014, I felt a strong urge to investigate the roots of ISIS and understand the reason behind this Islamic jihadi group's hatred towards humanity. This journey took me to Rojava, a region in Northeastern Syria, where I visited the areas ISIS controlled and talked with detained ISIS fighters, their families and the local people. Here I realised that the ideology of this horrific movement is still alive and that this terror group was not operating alone.
Despite facing numerous challenges and constantly moving for security reasons, we were determined to shed light on the critical situation in Syria through this film. I want the viewers to see what is happening here and why they should be concerned about a region that may seem far from their doorsteps. For example, one particular scene that stood out during our filming was our visit to the Al Hol camp, where we witnessed the devastating effects of the conflict on innocent children. We were disturbed to hear children of European parents singing Islamist fight songs that glorified death and violence. It was a stark reminder of the far-reaching impact of the conflict in Syria and the urgent need for international co-operation to find a solution.
Crucially, many people abroad may not be aware of the extent of Turkish intervention in the region. Turkish military drones are active in the sky of Northeastern Syria, and they are not targeting the Islamic jihadi terror fighters but rather innocent civilians and vital infrastructure.
The situation in Syria is complex and volatile, and it is essential to understand the roots of the conflict and the various actors involved. Through this film, we aimed to provide a platform for the voices of those affected by the conflict and to encourage Western countries to engage in finding a solution.
– Kawa Akrawi, Director