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Kurdish filmmaker will skip Miami Film Festival to protest President Trump

Dimen Zandi stars in ‘The Dark Wind’ as a young bride-to-be who is shunned by her elders after being abducted and raped by ISIS soldiers.
Dimen Zandi stars in ‘The Dark Wind’ as a young bride-to-be who is shunned by her elders after being abducted and raped by ISIS soldiers.

Kurdish director Hussein Hassan Ali, whose film “The Dark Wind” is scheduled to make its North American premiere at the Miami Film Festival in March, has withdrawn his visa application to travel to the U.S. and attend the Miami screening, in protest of the President Trump administration’s hardline stance on immigration.

“The Dark Wind,” which won the top prize at the Dubai Film Festival in December, centers on a woman in Kurdistan who is shunned by her Yazidi elders after being kidnapped and raped by ISIS soldiers.

“Hussein Hassan shot his film at the front line of the war between the Kurds and the so called Islamic State,” said the film’s producer, Mehmet Atkas, in a statement. “Hussein Hassan risked everything to present the true face of the war. Hassan is not a fighter at the front line, he fights with his artistic soul against terrorism and crimes. The U.S. are the closest and most important allies for Kurdistan. Now it seems to be impossible for a Kurdish artist to visit the U.S. to present his work.

“As an act of peaceful protest, Hussein Hassan decided to withdraw from his visa application. We as Kurdish filmmakers hope that Donald Trump will acknowledge the Kurdish people.”

President Trump’s new immigration policies are expected to include a suspension of visas for people from predominantly Muslim countries, including Iraq, for at least 30 days.

“One of Miami Film Festival’s core values is to bridge cultural understanding, to provoke thought and discussion, and The Dark Wind is one of the most timely, moving and important films in this year’s Festival,” Miami Film Festival director Jaie Laplante said in a statement. “It is essential that roadblocks not be put in place that will prevent artists from the free discussion of their work, and equally essential that the world’s artists are made to feel welcome in the United States.”

The 2017 Miami Film Festival runs March 3-12. This year’s lineup was announced on Thursday.

Rene Rodriguez: 305-376-3611, @ReneMiamiHerald

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