20/10/2018.- The director of Comandante Arian, una historia de mujeres, guerra y libertad, Alba Sotorra, defines the shoot as “the most powerful experience of my life so far”. For three years, she has been entering Syria illegally to follow the movements of the protagonist of the documentary, Commander Arian, in her fight against ISIS.
The film, which is competing in the Time of History section, takes us to the front line of the Syrian war to document the struggle of Kurdish women from the north of the country against the Islamic State and the feminist revolution in Kurdistan. The protagonist is one of the commanders of the YPJ, the female military protection units established from 2012 to protect the Kurds.
During the discussion prior to the screening of the documentary, Alba Sotorra explained how the idea for the film arose. In 2014, when the Islamic State was expanding, it encountered an unexpected resistance, led by female commanders. “It seemed important to me to document it”, said Sotorra, who had been aware of the existence of this feminist movement for a while previously. The drive to see what they were doing led her to make her first trip, during which she met Arian. “I went without really knowing what I was getting into”, she confessed.
For many months, Sotorra shadowed Arian, who she learned a lot from: “She taught me a lot about strength and bravery, and this helped me to cope with the most difficult times”. The director admits that it is not easy to be on the front line, and that she was often afraid. “Throughout these years, I’ve made very good friends, and some of them are no longer with us”, she revealed.
In the north of Syria, there is currently an egalitarian democratic political system in which women have decision-making power. “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, because it’s a very unstable region, but for now what they’ve achieved is incredible”, she noted. The documentary is dedicated “to Ana Campbell, to all women who fall victim to violence in a world which treats them as second-class citizens, and to the women who never give up”.
The screening was preceded by the short film Yuck, in which a dance group reflects on the way in which society views women’s bodies.