A group of people are filming out in a field and a barbed wire fence can be seen in the foreground. On the other side of the barbed wire is a soldier.

Rojava Film Commune at the filming of "Stories of Destroyed Cities", Kobane Regionen, 2017

The Film Club: Rojava Film Commune

Films and discussions

29.10 2021


Welcome to the Film Club’s screening of two video works by the Rojava Film Commune. The screening of the films “Lonely Trees” (2017) and “Shadow of the Kurdish Mountain” (2018) will be followed by a talk between the curator iLiana Fokianaki and Petra Bauer, professor at the Royal Institute of Art.

With these films and the ensuing talk, we look at how a revolutionary cinematic practice, where the films target a non-Western audience, can be formed in the wake of a Eurocentric film tradition. What happens when revolutionary filmmaking is presented in the context of an art institution?

After the screening, iLiana Fokianaki, curator of the Commune exhibition “Forms of Freedom”, talks to Petra Bauer, Head of Department for Research and Further Education in Fine Art and Architectureat the Royal Institute of Art.

The Rojava Film Commune is one of the participants in Documenta 15 2022.


About the films

The films screened at the evening event are from the Rojava Film Commune’s archives of collective and individually-made films, which range from fictive narrations of historic events, to documentaries and witness accounts. They were selected jointly by the curator iLiana Fokianaki and the Commune.

Darên Bitenê / Lonely Trees (2017)

43:05 min.
“Lonely Trees” describes the long tradition of oral histories in the Euphrates region and how through different forms of culture, and mainly music, history is recorded and maintained as testimony throughout the eons. While the multicultural societies find affinities through singing and composing music together.

Sîka Çiyayê Kurmênc / Shadow of the Kurdish Mountain (2018)

21:56 min.
The film describes the resilience of populations that live around the city of Afrin, fondly described as the shadow of the Kurdish Mountain. The city is the main protagonist and we follow it through the stories and testimonies of people that have been living there, its refugees, teenagers and others.

About the artists

The Rojava Film Commune was founded in 2015 in the autonomous region of Rojava (which means “West” and comprises the western part of Kurdistan in what is now northern Syria).
The Commune has taken upon itself to convey and describe the daily struggle in the Syrian war and the Rojava region’s attempts to rebuild a society based on women’s rights, environmentalism and equality in all fields of life.

About the curator

iLiana Fokianaki is a curator, theoretician and educator. She lives in Athens and Rotterdam. Her research focuses on how power is formed and how it changes under the influence of geopolitics, national identity and cultural and anthropological histories.