Jiyan

Philip French
Sunday February 16, 2003
The Guardian

Jano Rosebiani is a Kurd who has lived in the States since the mid-1970s and his touching and topical film, Jiyan, centres on a Kurdish-American, Diyari, returning to help build an orphanage in Halabja, his childhood hometown. This is the city with a population of a 70,000 in Kurdistan, where on 16 March 1988, Saddam Hussein's airforce dropped bombs containing mustard gas, nerve gas and cyanide, killing more than 5,000 adults and children, seriously injuring twice that number, undermining the health of many more and contaminating the countryside.

Coping with terrible poverty and neglect, the people get on with their lives as best they can, trying to preserve their dignity and live as a community. They curse Saddam, of course, and a little boy asks Diyari: 'Why do we have such shitty neighbours?' The movie begins and ends with a 10-year-old orphan on a swing, her face disfigured by the bombing. Called Jiyan, Kurdish for 'hope', she blossoms through her friendship with the visitor, and he names the orphanage after her.

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