The Filmmaker's Predicament: On ISIS, Media and the Kurdish Genocide

PhD/ The Filmmaker’s Predicament: On ISIS, Media and the Kurdish Genocide

During my 6-year practical-based PhD with documentary, I will look at the relationship between documentary and genocide, particularly in reference to the genocide carried out against Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s and by ISIS against the Yazidi Kurds in 2014.

I started my project in 2013 and have subsequently directed and produced eight documentary films for the BBC. Three of my films were directly related to the genocide – Slaves of the Caliphate, Policeman of Kirkuk and Life on the Rubbish Tip. In these films I tackle the idea of genocide from many different perspectives including the perpetrators, those against whom it is perpetrated, and those working to stop it.

All three films where made in hostile environments when ISIS were at their strongest in Iraq and Syria. It wasn’t easy or safe to make those films but, as a victim of genocide in the 1980s and as a filmmaker in the present day, I was determined that these stories be told. Part of my practice is to ensure that the people of Iraq and around the world do no forget the past.

For my final project I will be submitting the 3 films mentioned, and 25,000 words examining how these films intersect with the modern history of genocide against the Kurds, as well as looking in greater detail at how these films were made. I will also build a website with interviews with interviewees from the films, such as fighters from ISIS and survivors of genocide, and many other oral history testimonies.

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  • Winner The Grierson Trust British Documentary Award

  • Winner Mind Media Award

  • Emmy Award