Good Kurds, Bad Kurds Film Reviews

The New York Times - June 16, 2000

Weekend Critic's Choice/Film

No Fluff, No Gimmickry in These Searing Stories
by Stephen Holden

In discussions of popular culture nowadays, few words are more crassly degraded than reality, as in the "reality programming" that is a hot new television trend. The misapplication of the word to categorize gimmicky televised pseudo-events is all the more distressing when such sensationalist fluff is compared to the best documentary and fiction films to be seen each year at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. This reality is the genuine article.

The vital annual series, which opened Wednesday at the Walter Reade Theater with Randa Chahal Sabbag's documentary about Lebanon, "A Civilized People," is probably the best New York showcase for films exploring political, social and economic issues that cannot be neatly summarized in 15-minute segments. And in a gossip-and celebrity-saturated media climate that increasingly ignores the world beyond our borders, the festival offers intimate, often painful glimpses into other cultures that no other information source could provide. . .

A perfect example of an international story that could be done justice only by a documentary film is Kevin McKiernan's video movie "Good Kurds, Bad Kurds: No Friends But the Mountains" (June 24 at 1 p.m., June 28 at 6 p.m.. and June 29 at 1 p.m.) The film is, among many other things, a concise story of a people Mr. McKiernan calls "the Native Americans of Asia Minor."

The "good" Kurds in the eyes of the United States are those who live in Iraq and are persecuted by Saddam Hussein. The "bad" are those fighting a war against the government in Turkey (an American ally), where they make up 20 percent of the population. The movie delves deep into the history and politics of the Kurdistan region while analyzing the seemingly contradictory policy of the United States and criticizing Turkey for human rights violations.



Back to Reviews


site map contact us biography video & documentaries published works photo galleries home