Hisham Zaman, a Norwegian filmmaker of Kurdish origin, exploded onto the international scene in 2005 with his powerful short film Bawke, which received numerous awards for its sensitive and intelligent presentation of the dilemmas faced by people who are on the run and caught between borders. The film grabs your heart without ever being melodramatic and awakens your sense of empathy to a universal condition without ever preaching.
In his subsequent feature Winterland, Zaman continues to delicately mine this field of in-between lives. Renas is a happy-go-lucky Kurdish refugee who lives in a godforsaken snow-covered spot in northern Norway. He has everything he wants, but he would like a wife. Over the course of a year his family back home arranges for him to wed a woman there whom he has never seen, and even hold a wedding in Iraq with him in absentia. But the marriage gets off to a rocky start when Fermesk arrives in Norway. Neither her husband nor the country appear the way she had imagined. And Renas too is confronted with the reality of a flesh-and-blood woman he has only known through a photo. There is also the distant cacophony of in-laws and relatives, navigating the ways of this foreign land that is now home and Renas must also negotiate what it means to be a man in this new situation. Featuring strong visuals, a highly original script and engaging sense of humor, Winterland is a love story with a political edge that will touch you at your core. —!F Istanbul