It’s been two years since Memories On Stone had its first theatrical release, in the Czech Republic of all places, but on Sunday night it was shown at a new cinema café in Erbil.
Memories On Stone centres on a team of film makers hurdling a myriad of obstacles as they attempt to commit a story about the Anfal genocide to celluloid. Away from its central conceit however, the film looks at issues that have affected society for generations in some cases, and just a few years in others.
While director Hussein (Hussein Hassan) is casting his net far and wide to cast the lead female character, funding for the project is boosted by the casting of an expatriate Kurdish singer Roj Azad (played with pure glee by Suat Osta), flown in from Germany.
The character, based on a real-life singer who turned down the chance to play the part in Memories, is involved in the promotion of a housing development, a plot point that sharply mirrors the construction boom that engulfed the Kurdistan Region up until the rise of ISIL and the fall in the price of oil two years ago.
In the unmarried Sinur (Shima Molaei), the director believes he has finally found his leading woman, but conservative mores stifle initial attempts to cast her. Only by marrying her cousin can Sinur star in the movie, as her uncle, guardian since the death of her father during Anfal, insists that an unmarried woman cannot star in a film.
With her desire to commemorate her father stronger than her obvious reluctance to marry Bashir, Sinur agrees to star in the film. And that’s where the real problems begin.
With some dark humour punctuating weighty subject matter, Memories On Stone holds the attention right through to the bold ending.
Yalla gives it 4 / 5