My Sweet Pepper Land
My Sweet Pepper LandOriginal Title: Biladi al-halwa . . . biladi al-hada
Director: Hiner Saleem
Iraq, France, Germany, United Arab Emirates | Kurdish
| Colour and B&W
Subtitles: Arabic, English
Hiner Saleem’s My Sweet Pepper Land ushers us into the lands of Kurdistan where the Kurds of Iraq are free. The story takes place in Quamrian, a remote area, where the Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish borders meet. Trafficking is rampant, ranging from the smuggling of alcohol into the Islamic Republic to arms for fighters inside Turkey. This land is snowbound for six months a year and accessible only on horseback. One small hamlet has a police station and a newly opened school.
Baran is a virile 40-year-old man who has spent his life as a resistance fighter. He is appointed a commander to help bring order to Quamrian just as a lovely schoolteacher by the name of Govend arrives, braving the hostility of her 12 brothers. No one wants law and order in Quamrian except for Baran, no one wants a school and no one apart from Govend dreams of love.
There are countless stories to be heard from women who have become doctors or teachers and have left to work in far-flung villages in modern Kurdistan. They are mirrored for us in the character of Govend who, while respecting aspects of tradition, engages and defies her family, society and the culture of honor with clearheaded confidence. She becomes for the audience at once the admiration for and the love of these women in this story that has equal doses of emotion and humor. As the saying goes, God created 10 Kurds, and the 11th to make them laugh.