The Guardians of civilisation is a documentary film project about Assyrian artists in Iraq. It is being developed by two Slovenian movie makers, who plan to visit Iraq soon in order to make a final footage and give the voice to the voiceless.
The inspiration for the move originates in the overlooked fate of one of the oldest nations in the world, commonly known as Assyrians. In modern times one can find main Assyrian communities in South-East Turkey, North-Western Iraq and North-Eastern Syria. All three territories are now war zones, cut through and apart by battle lines.
Assyrians are one of the first people to accept Christianity. Even though outsiders refer to them as Assyrian christians, the community is divided into three main branches of Eastern Christianity: Eastern Assyrian Church, Syriac/Syrian Orthodox Church and finally Chaldean Church, leading many of Assyrians to identify themselves as either Assyrians, Syriacs or Chaldeans.
Before the start of the Second Gulf War there were 1.5 million christians living in Iraq. Due to war, numerous terrorist attacks and senseless destruction of their towns and historical monuments vast majority have decided to leave their homes for good. They have joined countless others who try to seek refuge in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
To give you the idea on where the movie is taking place:
For more information on Assyrian history we kindly invite you to visit our website.
The movie will feature the story about Nenous and his father - two Assyrian artists from Bakhdeda, very near Mosul. After Bakhdeda was liberated from ISIS in November 2016, they visited their town and found it to be almost completely plundered and ruined. Nevertheless, the family is hoping to return home soon. Apart from rebuilding their house Mr. Thabet and Nenous also intent on making anew all the destroyed statues.
We did the research for our movie in December 2015 and started filming in March 2016. We are making a 55-minute portrait-type documentary. Rather than covering the issue through a set of interviews with many different persons from political figures to refugees, we are focusing on personal stories that tell the greater tale.
Mr. Thabet is one of the most renowned Iraqi artists. He took care of old Assyrian statues in Mosul and made his own for churches and monasteries in Ninevah. Islamic state destroyed all of them in 2014. Mr. Thabet's family joined thousands of others fleeing their homes. Currently they are still refugees in Ainkawa, Erbil's predominantly Assyrian suburb.
The refugee camp in Ainkawa, Erbil The refugee camp in Ainkawa, Erbil
Mr. Thabet is teaching art at a high school set up at one of the refugee camps and has an art programme Portrait at a local station Ishtar TV. His most dedicated student is his son Nenous, determined to follow in his father's footsteps. Nenous talent has already been noticed by local and foreign media, in fact the story was covered by CNN in December 2016.
Nenous and his father
With this documentary we wish to provide a chance for Assyrians to tell us the stories of their common tragic fate and to introduce themselves to the world that has largely turned its back on them. We wish to raise awareness among the international public about the situation of Assyrians in Iraq. We want to both educate the people about the complexities of the Middle East as well as to wake people up by realising that what is happening to Assyrians is not just a crime against humanity, it is also a crime of humanity against Assyrians. .
Our main commitment is to portray the undying hope to rebuild what was destroyed and to defy death with life. We are building a film document about history, about culture, about identity and above all about human courage.
Erik Valenčič is a longtime journalist with in-depth knowledge of the situation in the Middle East. He received an award for ‘outstanding accomplishment’ by Slovenian Association of Journalists in November 2015, Slovenia. Currently he is finishing a TV documentary movie for RTV SLO about three monasteries: Mor Augin in Turkey and Mar Mattai and Rabban Hormizd in Iraq.
Miha Mohorič is a passionate travel writer and filmmaker documenting people’s ways of life and their culture in his films. His main focus is socio-cultural thematic, specially the one which is in our society hidden or ignored. Miha is also the founder of Kranjska Gora International Film Festival in Slovenia where his main goal is to present atavistic and human rights documentaries to wider public.
Making a documentary movie is a time and money consuming effort. So far we were able to travel to Iraq couple of times in the period of 2016 and 2017, where we spent several weeks filming in various cities, from Bakhdeda, Erbil, Mosul, to Dohuk and have shot around 4 Tb of video footage. Because of the unstable situation in the area, we had to plan yet another, and last, filming trip in order to make our final footage. The trip will take place in late June this year.
This additional filming trip has seriously compromised our budget. Your support will allow us to cover costs like audio and video editing, colour-grading, sound, translating and subtitling. It would also enable us to compensate fixers, translators and everyone else who contributed in making this movie. In these tumultuous times, it is important for us to get this message out, to give voice to the voiceless and make a positive impact. With your help and our dedicated team members, we are confident that we will not let you or the content down, and create a beautiful documentary movie with a strong message and educational note that will reach many hearts.
Every euro counts! If you can’t support our project by getting any of the offered perks, tell your friends, email everyone you know about it or share this campaign on your social media page. More “LIKES” we get, more exposure and more chances our documentary gets to be screened and aired.
You are more than welcome to learn more about the project and the team!
Thank you for your support! Every little bit helps.
Risks and challenges
Every project in the potentially dangerous area brings it own challenges. Whole team actively works to minimize existing threat both at home when planning where and how to film, and on the field by knowing and trusting right people. Even so, we cannot completly guarantee the safety of our people, so it is always possibility that project fails if equipment or people on the field get compromised.
After the film crew returns, we don't expect any aditional problems. The deadline of release might be postponed for a month or two beacuse of extended production work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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