A 157

Behrouz Nouranipour

Iran 2015, 70min.

As The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the highest honour bestowed by the European Parliament was awarded to two young Yezidi women, Nadia Murad and Lamija Adschi, the media community took a brief look at the overwhelming human disaster and terror against young women in the Syrian’s conflict zones. Of course, not only those of Yezidi origin, but thousands of women are victims of organised crime, largely committed by the lower ranks of IS-manipulated ‘religious believers’, who only know the Koran as a book with too many pages.

Again, Doc Festival Leipzig emphasises its rational awareness of actual and urgent issues, which, unfortunately, not all documentary festivals are ready to be confronted with. The latest festival offers, with Behrouz Nouranipour’s A 157, a profound look at the psychological and social conditions of women who have been confronted with the murder of their own family members, having been taken away to unknown locations and imprisoned in caves. They have suffered long-term, systematic sexual abuse at the hands of ‘believers’ who, through their orientation books were told what they can do to their female victims, whatever their age. Females are used as gifts for services to war, their recipients, assisted by waiting buyers on the outside, are ready to take them to even remoter locations.

Nouranipour fixed her camera on a refugee camp for removed women. They are washing, drying, cooking, and just trying to keep busy. Alone in a refugee tent, there is no further help or assistance. Sometimes they receive a UNICEF food box, but no medical or psychological support. This, in one of these camps, is where A 157 starts, with a camera view on a lost doll on the muddy ground, in a wet and cold landscape, a narrow space shared by 17,000 people. The central characters are two sisters Hailin and Roken, 11 and 15 years old, and their former neighbour and friend Soolaf, 13. They try to take care of each other, they try to survive. Often, they sing sad songs reminiscing what happened to them. Most frequently we hear Roken’s voice, but all three are interviewed in the documentary. They are not always able to answer. Often, tears interrupt their speech. They all are in various stages of pregnancy, all violated for months by the same man. Longing for their own mothers, they cannot imagine what it will mean to be a mother themselves.

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