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Zaynê Akyol’s feature documentary Gulîstan, Land of Roses wins Europe’s Doc Alliance Selection Award.



August 7, 2016 – Montréal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Zaynê Akyol’s feature documentary Gulîstan, Land of Roses, produced by Montreal production company Périphéria in co-production with German production company Mîtosfilm and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), has won the coveted Doc Alliance Selection Award, as chosen by seven of Europe’s top documentary film festivals.

The winner of the 2016 Doc Alliance Selection Award was announced on August 7 at the opening ceremony of the Locarno International Film Festival, with the directors of the Doc Alliance festivals in attendance. Akyol will receive a financial prize of EUR 5,000 in support of her future projects.

Gulîstan, Land of Roses follows Kurdish female fighters who share their revolutionary and feminist ideals as they fight for their territory and wage war against ISIS, the so-called Islamic State group.

The Doc Alliance Selection Award has been presented since 2008 by the independent Doc Alliance, which brings together seven key European documentary festivals: CPH:DOX, Doclisboa, Docs Against Gravity FF, DOK Leipzig, Jihlava IDFF, FIDMarseille and the Visions du Réel International Documentary Film Festival. Each festival selects one nominee that they see as best representing excellence in non-fiction creativity, as well as a jury member from the ranks of film critics from the festival’s home country.

Gulîstan, Land of Roses was chosen for the award by a seven-member panel composed of Michael Bo (Politiken, Denmark), Gabriel Bortzmeyer (Revue Débordements, France), Vasco Câmara (Público, Portugal), Piotr Czerkawski (Dziennik Filmmweb.pl, Poland), Christian Jungen (NZZ am Sonntag, Switzerland), Tomas Stejskal (Hospodarske noviny, Czech Republic), and Gisela Wehrl (Blickpunkt:Film, Germany).

Gulîstan, Land of Roses is produced by Sarah Mannering, Fanny Drew and Yanick Létourneau (Périphéria), Mehmet Aktaş (Mîtosfilm), and Nathalie Cloutier and Denis McCready (NFB). Yanick Létourneau, Mehmet Aktaş and Colette Loumède are the film’s executive producers. The film is distributed by the NFB.

The film had its world premiere at Visions du Réel in Nyon, Switzerland, and its Canadian premiere in the Canadian Spectrum program at Hoc Docs this year.

About the film

They belong to the armed wing of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is also an active guerrilla movement. The mission of these female fighters? Defend Kurdish territory in Iraq and Syria, and defeat ISIS (the armed militants of the so-called Islamic State group), all while embodying a revolutionary ideal advocating female empowerment.

As filmmaker Zaynê Akyol follows their highly regimented lives, seasoned fighters like Rojen and Sozdar openly share with us their most intimate thoughts and dreams.

Even as fighting against ISIS intensifies in the Middle East, these women bravely continue their battle against barbarism. Offering a window into this largely unknown world, Gulîstan, Land of Roses exposes the hidden face of a highly mediatized war: the female, feminist face of a revolutionary group united by a common vision of freedom.

About the director

Filmmaker Zaynê Akyol completed her bachelor’s degree from the Media School at the Université du Québec à Montréal where she won the René Malo Chair/National Film Board of Canada award for most promising documentary filmmaker. Her 2010 medium-length documentary, Iki Bulut Arasinda (Under Two Skies), won an award at the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois. After she completed her master’s degree in communications, with a concentration in film, in 2013, Akyol’s script-in-development for Gulîstan, Land of Roses was selected for the Doc Station at the Berlin International Film Festival.


Associated Links

Doc Alliance Selection Award
Locarno International Film Festival
Docs Against Gravity FF
DOK Leipzig
Jihlava IDFF
Visions du Réel International Documentary Film Festival

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    Founded in 1939, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a one-of-a-kind producer, co-producer and distributor of distinctive, engaging, relevant and innovative documentary and animated films. As a talent incubator, it is one of the world’s leading creative centres. The NFB has enabled Canadians to tell and hear each other’s stories for over eight decades, and its films are a reliable and accessible educational resource. The NFB is also recognized around the world for its expertise in preservation and conservation, and for its rich and vibrant collection of works, which form a pillar of Canada’s cultural heritage. To date, the NFB has produced more than 14,000 works, 6,500 of which can be streamed free of charge at nfb.ca. The NFB and its productions and co-productions have earned over 7,000 awards, including 11 Oscars and an Honorary Academy Award for overall excellence in cinema.