In JIYAN I am dealing with death and destruction, the flip side of which is life itself. For a Kurd life equates survival in the face of endless odds. It necessitates an ongoing struggle against the evils within the human heart. The humans in question are the immediate neighbors and occupiers whose treatment of the 30 odd million Kurds is anything but humane.
The infamous gassing of the Kurds in 1988 left an estimated 5000 dead and over 9000 maimed or deformed, all in a matter of a few minutes. One couldn't harm that many flies in such a short time, but yet Saddam did it and lived to brag about it at his private banquets.
JIYAN is loosely based on testimonial accounts of the survivors, some of whom had lost their family members to the chemical attack. The mention of my plans to take their stories to the world brought tears to their eyes.
A handful of the survivors took part in the film, playing themselves. Such as the woman who had lost all her family and her sight to the chemicals. I found her begging in the market place, and the stuttering man who plays the father proposing for a girl's hand for his son. The next day he showed me a photograph of his real and only son who had died during the attack. I was speechless.
The Kurds are a colorful people, full of life despite the tragedies befalling them. Being indigenous to their region, they possess a rich culture which they have managed to preserve for a few thousand years. They thrive on poetry, music and dance, and with that comes romance. There are two love stories running parallel, one involving Jiyan herself, and there is even a wedding.
JIYAN is a popular female name in Kurdistan. It means life. Therefor Jiyan, the ten-year old orphan, is a representative of life, or rather life itself, though bruised as half of her face was burned by acid during the chemical attack.
My ultimate goal for JIYAN is to be a window to the world through which one can see a glimpse of the Kurds, of their daily life, their culture, their folklore and, most importantly, their human rights dilemma.