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Beshert, Kurdish Style

There are a host of multi-dimensional links between Kurds and Jews (to say nothing of the many thousands of Kurdish Jews.) It is sometimes claimed that Abraham was Kurdish. Historically, a good number of Kurds felt positively toward Israel and … Read More

By / October 5, 2007

David & Layla There are a host of multi-dimensional links between Kurds and Jews (to say nothing of the many thousands of Kurdish Jews.) It is sometimes claimed that Abraham was Kurdish. Historically, a good number of Kurds felt positively toward Israel and were none too happy with Palestinian support for Saddam. The Kurdish people, being victims of persecution and genocide, looked to Israel as a sort of hopeful model for their own liberation. Furthermore, DNA research shows that Kurds are Jews’ closest genetic relatives. So, perhaps this Kurdish-Jewish romantic comedy was inevitable. From The Seattle Times review of "David & Layla."

Inspired by the real-life marriage between a Kurdish Muslim refugee and a Jewish New Yorker, the movie hits all the requisite plot points, some hopelessly contrived (like a first kiss disguised as the need for CPR) while others earn big, fat, non-Greek belly laughs.

David (David Moscow) is an agnostic Jew who hosts a Brooklyn public-access TV show called "Sex and Happiness," for which he conducts highly personal man-in-the-street interviews. He's got a Jewish fiancée (Callie Thorne) but is truly smitten with Layla (Shiva Rose), a smart, sexy Kurdish refugee for whom marriage is the best defense against imminent deportation

You can pretty much guess the rest. But while writer-director Jay Jonroy (an Iraqi Kurdish exile with a tragic family history under Saddam Hussein's tyranny) fumbles with occasionally forced humor — including a terribly written infidelity scene that's played for slapstick and left unexplained — he's remarkably adept at exploring complex divisions between well-meaning but prejudiced families united by love.

If there is a Hell, I’d have to guess this movie is running on a continuous loop in Saddam’s sulfurous suite. Apparently the film doesn’t shy away from politics and gets big points for addressing the U.S.’ previous betrayal of the Kurdish people. The movie is being independently released and seems pretty hard to find, but I’ll make sure to see it one way or another. I should add here that I highly recommend the 2004 Kurdish Iranian film “Turtles Can Fly,” in spite of its horrific title. It’s an achingly beautiful movie about the children of a Kurdish refugee camp on the eve of the U.S. attack on Saddam. One of the fringe benefits of liberation is enjoying the talents of the liberated. With their emerging proficiency in film the Kurds may find they have yet something else in common with Jews.

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