We’ve met this director at Shorts on Tap, the events dedicated to indie shorts taking place at Juno a few months ago. As soon as we watched this short, we felt immediately something special, so the next step was meeting the director and have a chat after. So, it’s time for you to meet her! She’s Mizgin Müjde Arslan, she’s from Turkey or from Kusdistan. It depends.
1) Could you explain what’s your short “Asya” about?
Asya is a story of a 11 years old Kurdish girl who wants to go to school. I wanted to visualize her daily life, her dream beyond the reality of the village using pure cinema in documentary style.
2) You said it’s your story, so, how was possible to escape from that?
I always believed that there is a way to create a new way, a new reality, a new life. The key is to believe in yourself and continue your journey without giving up. If you continue to walk through your goals you always have a chance to find some good friends on your road.
3) I think it’s a story representing your very own country. How do old people react to it? And how about guys same age as yourself?
It has been quite changing since my childhood but there are still the same perspectives in old people’s mind. They still think that existence of women is for men’s life. They want us to be a servant of our brother, father, husband. Asya is a very simple film but it’s full of the ideas against this patriarchal system in my land.
4) I remember the last sentence of the short, say “You are 14 and most of your coetanee have already an husband”. It’s really impressed in my mind since I watched it. In fact I guess when you are 14, you’re still a child.
I remember very well how their approach has changed after I have experienced my first period, however, it’s something dangerous to transform from a child to a woman. I think, it’s connected to religion and also traditions. They accept you as a woman just after bleeding even if you’re still a little girl. They want you to behave as a woman. Many girls get engaged when they are 12 /13 years old. It’s still the same rule which continues in some part of Kurdistan.
5) How is Kurdistan? What’s the story around it?
Historically and politically it’s a very complicated country. We have been in conflict since we were born. You are in between two languages two identities and religion is also confusing. When I was a child my name was only Mizgin which means Good News in Kurdish. After I started going to school I needed a document, in that document/identity my name appeared Müjde which means Good News in Turkish so they kept meaning but changing the way you write my name. I have lived with second fake name for more than 20 days until I changed it again and brought my first name/real name Mizgin on the document identity via court. As you may see everything have had two faces, the real one and the fake one.
6) I read on the net that have you been arrested in 2012. If I can, could I ask what happened?
My last feature documentary I Flew You Stayed was the story of myself, personally, when I was looking for my guerrilla’s fathers grave whom I have never met. I had been in custody for 4 days just before our film premier at the Istanbul Film Festival. Of course it wasn’t a nice experience but they released me after the prosecutor watched the film. It wasn’t a political, propaganda film. It’s all about love and female members of a Kurdish family who stayed behind a man who went to war.
7) Aren’t you afraid of what you are doing?
Since the beginning I knew that my father was a taboo in Turkey and also to be Kurd is another handicap there. You may have faced many difficulties but most of the time art or cinema comes from this difficulties. So it is understandable why the increasing number of young Kurdish people making new films every year and why Kurdish cinema is on a sharp rise. Their story is untold or has been manipulated by
8) What are your plans for the future? Would you like to have a mainstream impact? How would you think the occidental public opinion react on it? Will it be accepted or not?
We have new two projects. We are about to finish our new short film Angel. We are working as blue arts film company with some friends. Beside filming and producing, we are running film courses very regularly. I am also working on my first feature film project called “Roj or Sun”. It’s again story of 7 years old girl. I shoot teaser this summer in Kurdistan, we are in preproduction but it’s not easy to find your budget as an independent filmmaker. In any case we would make a film but we also like to find a producer which may help us in many ways.