french films > Kilometre Zero

Kilometre Zero

Kilometre Zero

cast: Nazmi Kirik, Eyam Ekrem, Belcim Bilgin

year: 2004

colour: yes

certificate:

director: Hiner Saleem

runtime: 96

'We are free', shout two Iraqi-Kurds ecstatically as they hear news of the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Hiner Saleem's Kilometre Zero. Though bookended by scenes set during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Saleem's follow-up to his award-winning Vodka Lemon plunges viewers headfirst into the dark heart of life under Saddam's brutal regime for much of its running time. Largely set in 1988, just before the chemical attacks on the Kurdish town of Halabja, the film's events unfold in typically elliptical style as we follow the travails of likeable everyman Ako, in a Tati-esque turn by actor Nazmî Kirik. Married, with a young son, to the beautiful Selma, and endlessly bickering with his cantankerous, dying father-in-law, Ako finds himself forcibly drafted into the Iraqi army to fight on the Iranian border. From there, Saleem fashions a tragic-comic odyssey that sees Ako compelled to cross the dusty length of Iraq with only a hostile Arab taxi driver as companion, the coffin of a dead soldier tied to their car and a giant statue of Saddam in keen pursuit. Heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measure, Saleem's powerful film, shot on location in Iraqi Kurdistan, is a poignant account of the Kurdish people's struggle for liberation and equality.

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