Friday, 16 October 2009


Starting in a little town in Iraqi Kurdistan during the eighties, Kilometre Zero follows Kurdish Ako as he is called up to fight in the First Gulf War. Almost immediately he finds himself subjected to racial discrimination from the authorities, and soon he discovers that even the Arabic soldiers are willing to shoot themselves for the chance to be sent home. Not before long, Ako is assigned the task of returning the body of a dead soldier to his family, a trip which he shares with a short-fused Arabic driver. The two bicker continuously until Ako is abandoned in the middle of nowhere, with only the elements of nature to accompany him for the rest of his journey home.

Director Hiner Saleem, best known for the optimistic Armenian comedy Vodka Lemon, makes a clear point of humanising the soldiers in a humorous manner, but long stretches of silence in between scenes undermine this line of dark humour, creating a mixed effect. One particular example involves several wordless minutes of the car journey, interrupted by the sight of a cow shitting carelessly onto the road. Saleem also plays mischievously with Iraqi iconography, specifically the flag and a statue of Saddam Hussein frozen into rigid salute. Though I’m loath to admit it, this is probably the biggest factor that would get this film seen more in the West. Although it isn’t entirely depressing, the film is something of an uneasy watch, but the cheerful final scene makes the whole experience worth it.

No comments:

Post a Comment