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IFFR 2020 Perspectives

Review: The End Will Be Spectacular


- Ersin Çelik uses the 100-day resistance campaign in Diyarbakir, which started in November 2015, to highlight the divisions between the Turkish authorities and the Kurds

Review: The End Will Be Spectacular
Delîl Pîran in The End Will Be Spectacular

International Film Festival Rotterdam is showing the European premiere of the Kurdish resistance yarn The End Will Be Spectacular [+see also:
film profile
, in Perspectives. On display at the Dutch film festival is the producer’s 112-minute cut, as opposed to director Ersin Çelik’s 141-minute one, which played when the movie had its world premiere at the Kolkata International Film Festival late last year.

Inspired by real events, the film takes place in the months after the June 2015 election, when the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), mainly representing the Kurdish population, won seats in parliament. The fallout from this election led to the collapse of an attempted two-year peace process that tried to put an end to 40 years of clashes between the Turkish state military and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Çelik’s drama depicts the catastrophe that ensued by focusing on the 100-day resistance campaign that took place in Sur, an ancient district of Diyarbakir, which was a focal point of fighting between Turks and the Kurds.

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Director Çelik is open about the fact that he wanted to make this film because he believes that cinema is the best way to turn people’s attention to the events and keep the memories of those who have been killed alive. It’s a catastrophe that he feels the world has largely ignored. The helmer is a member of the Rojava Film Commune, established in 2015, during the Syrian civil war, to make films about what was happening from their perspective. The attempt to reinforce the reality of the situation led to him casting “Haki” and “Servan the Pirate”, two of the survivors who were involved in the real-life resistance, to play themselves.

The first-time feature director has created a narrative structure to enable an accessible vehicle through which to explain the political situation as naturally as possible. Following the murder of her brother, Zilan (Arjîn Baysal) has returned to Sur, a place her family left many years before for political reasons. Sur was her childhood home, but it is now a place that is foreign to her. It's a place where she no longer takes heed of the local customs and where she witnesses a society that is in flux, too. The Kurds have set up a stateless democracy based on self-governance, gender equality and communal economy. There is no way that anyone can do what they want. A sense of oppression is everywhere, and Dilan (Sevda Kina) even gets chastised for drinking. With fear mounting and their way of life coming under attack from the Turkish authorities in Ankara, Zilan's acquaintances Yilmaz (Delîl Pîran) and Çiyager (Cîhan Seve) join an armed resistance group. Çelik shows how women lined up alongside their male counterparts in this resistance as they were forced together by a common cause.

The movie was made in tricky conditions because production took place near the Turkish-Syrian border, as fighting raged against ISIS. Given the ambition and production difficulties, it almost feels churlish to criticise the clunky moments in the film and the disjointed storytelling. There are some tense war sequences, especially one moment involving a notebook. Still, Çelik occasionally finds himself in a no man’s land of trying to reconcile the sometimes contradictory demands of telling an entertaining war story by providing a document on how Sur came to be flattened and how so many died for their ideals.

The End Will Be Spectacular is a Syrian-Iraqi-Spanish production staged by Rojava Film Commune, Demkat Film and Alba Sotorra SL, with the involvement of Art Records, Svensk-Kurdisk Kulturfond and Catalan Films & TV.

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