My Sweet Pepper Land - Review
I dedicate (some would argue waste) countless hours watching films in search of moments when the art form genuinely moves me. Scanning for films which surpass mere entertainment or even escapism, in hope of witnessing something which feels significant. My Sweet Pepper Land the latest film by Hiner Saleem sits comfortably in this category. I feel it’s only fair to warn you that this may very well descend quite rapidly into an all-out-love-fest, such was the experience I had watching it, so i’ll try to maintain some level of composure, but no promises …
The film is set in a post Saddam Hussein Kurdistan, which is struggling to define itself despite newfound independence. Baran (Korkmaz Arslan) is a restless war hero, who in search of a new challenge, agrees to be the sheriff of an undesirable remote rural village. Enroute to his new posting he meets Govend (Golshifteh Farahani) the village school teacher, Govend is dedicated to her work, despite immense pressure from her family to return home and marry a man she doesn’t love. The village is controlled by the local warlord Azzi Aga (Tarik Akreyî) who blatantly trafficks an assortment of goodies into the neighbouring countries. The three end up on a collision course when Baran refuses to bow to Azzi’s wishes.
This film feels important because the lead characters are each fighting battles which for me felt as though the director may have been commenting on several Middle Eastern countries. Baran represents the new emerging generation of Kurdistan rallying against the traditional attitudes of yesteryear, which results in obvious tension. He wants a justice system which is free of the corruption which is clearly crippling the village, a system free of external forces which in this case is represented by Azzi Aga. Govend represents the need for gender equality and the rights of women to be upheld. Promoting a world where women can chose any occupation they want and don’t just have to settle for what they are given. It’s film like these which may one day penetrate into cultures where women aren’t so fortunate and may go about effecting some kind of change.