My Sweet Pepper Land

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A disillusioned city cop finds romance and trouble on the Iraqi–Turkish border in this black comic Kurdish Western.

Director: Hiner Saleem
Year: 2013
Running time: 95 mins
Censor Rating: M - violence, sexual references, offensive language

Producers: Marc Bordure, Robert Guédiguian

Screenplay: Hiner Saleem, Antoine Lacomblez
Photography: Pascal Auffray
Editors: Sophie Reine, Clémence Samson, Juliette Haubois
Production designer: Fehmi Salim
Costume designers: Pauline Batista, Ceylan Remezan
Sound: Miroslav Babic
Music: Golshifteh Farahani
In Kurdish with English subtitles

With: Golshifteh Farahani (Govend), Korkmaz Arslan (Baran), Suat Usta (Reber), Mir Murad Bedirxan (Tajdin), Feyyaz Duman (Jaffar), Tarik Akreyi (Aziz Aga), Véronique Wüthrich (Nîroj)

Festivals: Cannes (Un Certain Regard) 2013

“Kurdistan may still be a loose geographical area but Kurdish cinema has come into its own, thanks to top filmmakers like Bahman Ghobadi and Hiner Saleem. Saleem’s My Sweet Pepper Land is his most accomplished attempt thus far to describe the historical moment in a way that communicates his fierce love for this remote region without veiling its grotesqueness… The tone is pretty much over the top from start to finish, a delightful, poker-faced take on the cowboy movie set on the Iraqi–Turkish border. A luminous performance by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani balances the Wild West humor, adding a note of serious appreciation for the plucky Kurdish women who refuse to bow their heads…

Steely-eyed Baran (Korkmaz Arslan) is a hero in the war for Kurdish independence, but now that Saddam Hussein has fallen and it’s peacetime, he finds himself at odds with his job as police chief in the capital city…. He agrees to be stationed in a lawless border town…

It’s the same two-phone village where Govend (Farahani) has started teaching kids to read and write. Against the wishes of her twelve goofy brothers, but with her father’s consent, she courageously lives alone in the village, sleeping in the school house… [Baran and Govend’s] mutual enemy is the local chieftain Aziz Aga, whose band of desperados smuggle alcohol into Iran and arms into Iraq…

Walking the line between drama and farce, Saleem is usually as sure-footed as the rugged horses that scale breath-taking hills and dales, stunningly shot in glorious color.” — Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter