Film Festival Welcomes Kurds from Nashville, Northern Iraq

Bahmad Ghomadi's 2012 film "Rhino Season" is one of the Kurdish films on the festival schedule.

Bahmad Ghomadi’s 2012 film “Rhino Season” is one of the Kurdish films on the festival schedule.

The Nashville Film Festival always draws crowds of movie buffs from around Middle Tennessee and the rest of the nation. But this year, organizers are welcoming a special contingent from halfway across the globe.

Since 2008, the festival has used a grant to reach out to the Nashville community. So the means were already in place when they got a special request from a very particular group: Nashville’s Kurds–the largest concentration of Kurdish immigrants and refugees anywhere in the US—wanted to see the films of their people included in the schedule.

“The woman, her name is Govand Wani, who came to us in the beginning, she said ‘we don’t have a country, all we have is a culture and this is saying yes to that culture.’”

The festival’s Development Director, Deb Pinger, says ten films, including several by the award-winning Bahman Ghobadi, were selected with help from a new festival in Kurdistan itself, and come next month, a delegation of filmmakers, journalists and officials from the region are scheduled to attend.

Pinger says it’s been touch and go at times. For a while after the Turkish Embassy bombing, it looked like no visas would come through. But between local residents and visitors from the Middle East, organizers expect to host more than 500 Kurds at festival events.

The Kurdish screenings have also attracted another group of special visitors—representatives from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will attend for the first time.

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