Mizgin Müjde Arslan – It depends
When we’ve met this director during Shorts on Tap at Juno a few months ago, we immediately felt something special going on watching her short, so for us was normal talking with her after it. Now we would like to introduce to you. Her name is Mizgin Müjde Arslan, she’s from Turkey or from Kusdistan. It depends.
Asya is the story of an 11 year old Kurdish girl who wants to go to school. I wanted to visualize her daily life, her dream beyond the reality of the village via 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 always a way to create a new way, new reality, new life. The key is to believe in yourself and continue your quest and not give up. If you continue to walk through to your goal you always have a chance to find some good friends on your road.
3) I think it’s a story deeply inside your country. How could the old people react to it? And how about guys with your age?
It has been changing since my childhood but there is still the same perspective in the minds of many older people. They still think that the existence of women is for the lives of men. They want us to be as a servant to our brother, father, husband. Asya is a very simple film but it’s full of the ideas against this patriarchal system in my homeland.
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 think that, when you are 14, you’re still child.
I remember very well how their approach changed after I experienced my first period, however, there is something dangerous in the transformation 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 though 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. Its still the same rule that continues in some parts of Kurdistan.
5) How is Kurdistan? What’s the story around it?
Historically, 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 confused. When I was a child my name was only Mizgin which means Good News in Kurdish. After I started to go to school I needed a document, in that identity document my name appeared as Müjde which means good news in Turkish so they kept the meaning but changed my name. I lived with second fake name for more than 20 years until I changed and brought my first name/real name Mizgin on the identity document via the court. As you may see everything has 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 me, personally, when I was looking for my guerrilla father’s grave whom I had never met. I had been in custody for 4 days just before my film’s premiere at the Istanbul Film Festival. Of course it wasn’t a nice experience but they released me after the prosecutor had watched the film. It wasn’t a political, propaganda film. It’s all about love and the female members of a Kurdish family who stayed behind a man who went to war.
7) Aren’t you afraid for what you are doing?
Since the beginning I knew that my father was a taboo in Turkey and also to be a Kurd is another handicap there. You may have to face many difficulties but most of the time art or cinema comes from these difficulties. So it is understandable why an increased number of young Kurdish people are making new films every year and why Kurdish cinema is on a sharp rise. Their story is untold or has been manipulated by others so far now they are telling their own stories and rewriting their history/reality truthfully.
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?
I am about to finish my new short film “Maybe Tomorrow”. I am also working on a new short film project called “Blue Moon for Margery” which has been written by my friend Tim McBride. When I read the script I found it very moving. It touches on many of the themes I explore in my earlier films and I have asked him to shoot it. It’s a story of an English lady who celebrates her eightieth birthday. I think it emphasises the fact that we are all human beings with our joys and difficulties and the roads we walk are often the same.