Five minutes with Kurdish-born, Sweden-educated director Karzan Kader. His debut feature Bekas premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival on Monday night and will be screened on Saturday, MOE 7 at 6.45pm. (Kurdish dialogue with Arabic and English subtitles)
Tell us more about your film Bekas.
You will see a part of me in Bekas. ‘Bekas’ refers to a grim situation when you have lost all the members of your family in the war or are completely alone in the world, with no blood ties. In my debut film, I have told my story through the eyes of two young boys who lived in Iraq during the Saddam Hussain regime. They are in search of their superhero whom they believe would save them against Hussain and his army. But this is not a hard-hitting film. I have tried my best to make it an adventure.
Since it was partly autobiographical, was it difficult to attain distance?
I fled Iraq with my family and went to America when I was seven or eight. When I was growing up, I have seen my family get shot and killed in front of my eyes. Returning to Iraq to film there years later wasn’t easy. There were scenes at checkpoints when I saw uniformed guards and I felt as if I was reliving that nightmare all over again. It was an emotional exercise and there were times when I didn’t know what to do. There was a war raging inside me. Film by film, I need to fight it out.
How difficult was it to make a movie with two young boys and a donkey?
When I was in film school, they drilled it into our heads that making a film with children and animals is never easy. But my first film had both. But both my young inexperienced actors came alive in front of the camera. In the younger boy, I saw myself.
What do you hope the viewers will take back from Bekas?
I want the film to strike an emotional connection and I want to impress upon the viewers that you should never lose your convictions. My take: Just follow your dreams.