Sunday, April 23, 2023

HAWAR, Our Banished Children Visions du Réel - Nyon


You need to be patient with HAWAR, like it’s subject. The film is a slowly building power house that is going to kick the legs from under you.

The subject of the film is called Ana. It is not her real name. Indeed, while we hear her voice we never see her face.  She is a Yazidi woman who had her village invaded by Isis jihadists. They killed many of the men and the  raffled off the eligible women and carted them off. Ana was raped by her “owner” and gave birth to a little girl.  When she and others from her village were rescued they were told that they could not take their children with them when they went home. While the villagers had no ill will against the children, they didn’t want them in the town because they were the children of the invaders. While most women begrudgingly went along with the wishes of those around them, Ana sought to find her daughter and quietly looked for and found her child. The film is a record of Ana’s secret trip to once again see her daughter.

While Ana is on screen for most of the film, we only see the back of her head or face somehow obscured. No one can know what Ana is doing and as such all details of the trip are removed. What we left with are her words and her voice. Over the course of the film we listen to her tell her story and we are crushed. More so after we see the mother and daughter reunion.

I was deeply moved.

I absolutely loved this film and you should make an effort to see the film. However because of what the film is, largely listening to one woman talk for the better part of an hour and a half it can seem a little slow. I say this as a warning because it took me a little bit to fall in with the rhythms of the film. If you can let the film work its magic, you will end up being rocked.

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