Kurds of Nashville | FESTIVALS

Kurd cinema in Tennessee? Exactly: who knew? Aside from its main program which already includes a gazillion titles the now-venerable Nashville International Film Festival (this year marks its 44th edition) scheduled for April 18-25 will also be screening fifteen Kurdish films down at its Regal Green Hills Cinema location, in partnership with the MPAA.

Fest organizers have announced a special three-day celebration of Kurdish films (April 19, 20, and 21) with various extra-curricular events like a reception for dignitaries, opening and closing night parties, master classes and panel discussions for filmmakers led by members of the Academy’s International Outreach Committee. The events, which are open to the public, should be expected to be heavily attended by Nashville’s large Kurdish population.

Stars like Monica Bellucci and veteran Iranian actor Behrouz Vossoughi (Iran’s answer to our Charles Bronson) are expected to be on hand to support “Rhino Season,” the program’s highlighted film (see below for further details).

In a recent press release issued by the festival Eyub Ramazan, one of the organizers, said “the event will build a bridge of collaboration between the American and Kurdish filmmakers.” Additionally, Ramazan underscored the importance of the event, “for the Kurdish community in Nashville to see the level their cinema has reached nowadays.” Nashville-Kurdish organizer, Govand Akreyi-Wani said “The Kurds have been an oppressed people. To see films by our people in our own language here in Nashville – it is just a big door opening for us.”

Stills from “Rhino Season”

“The Academy is proud to work with NaFF to bring Kurdish films and filmmakers to the U.S., and in particular to Nashville, with its vibrant and growing local Kurdish audience,” said Ellen Harrington, one of the festival’s organizers. “This is also a logical extension of the Academy’s International Outreach work, in particular our projects in the Middle East. We are happy to partner with important film festivals, like NaFF, who honor, as we do, the courageous and passionate movies being made by filmmakers around the world.”

The list of films to be screened include feature films and short films, most of which were directed by filmmakers whose names won’t necessarily ring a bell, except for one, Bahman Ghobadi–yes, the same Ghobadi who filmed “No one knows about Persian cats,” which was screened at the Cannes Festival a few years ago. Ghobadi is an Iranian filmmaker, albeit with Kurdish roots (Kurds make up a significant population of Iran’s demographics). Ghobadi will be presenting his new film “Rhino season,” starring Monica Bellucci, Behrouz Vossoughi and Yilmaz Erdogan, at the Nashville fest. Based on a true story, “Rhino Season” follows Sahel, a poet who was unjustly incarcerated during Iran’s Islamic Revolution (and a friend of Ghobadi’s). After being released into a world that is, three decades later, greatly changed, Sahel searches for the wife and children he left behind (featured photo: still from “Rhino Season”)

IRANIAN CINEMA: Check out Mubi’s list of essential iranian movies

WATCH the “Rhino Season” trailer

BELOW: stills from “Rhino Season”