France / Iraq, 2005 (MIFF 2006, Homelands Now)
Director: Hiner Saleem
Kilometre Zero screened in Official Competition at last year's Cannes Film Festival.
Veering between playful black comedy and telling commentary on the historical ethnic tensions that continue to wrack Iraq to this day, Kilometre Zero is a timely look at the forces straining the fabric of the Middle East.
In 1988, in the midst of the Iraq-Iran war, a young Kurd named Ako is press-ganged into joining Saddam Hussein's army. Sent to the frontline of the war, Ako experiences the chaos and confusion of the Iraq campaign but sees a chance to escape when he's given orders to escort a corpse back to the dead soldier's family.
Ako's driver for the trip turns out to be a Kurd-hating Arab, which sets the scene for a kind of morbid yet absurdist, anti-buddy road trip as Ako and his driver trade racist taunts while they make their way through Iraq's chaotic landscape. At every turn, Ako does his best to trick his driver into heading north, back towards his homelands of Kurdistan.
D/S Hineer Saleem P Emilie Georges, Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Fabrice Guez, Hineer Saleem WS Memento Film International L Arabic, Kurdish w/English subtitles TD 35mm/2005/96mins
Hiner Saleem was born in Acna, Iraqi Kurdistan, in 1954. His films include Beyond Our Dreams (2000) and Vodka Lemon (2003).