"> An Interview with writer, director of David & Layla Jay Jonroy

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Sign the petition for Iraq's three-region solution October 12, 2008 An Interview with writer, director of David & Layla Jay Jonroy 

Kurdishaspect.com 

Kurdish Aspect : Your film David & Layla has received great reviews from the New York Times and the Washington Post. The American and Jewish communities have raved about your movie yet you have not received the notoriety you deserve in the Kurdish Community why do you think that is?  Mr. Jonroy:   As you know, thanks in part to Bush's tragic errors in Iraq and in the Middle East, and partly thanks to Arab oil-wealth supported al-Jazeera TV's half truth stories, most Euro and American liberals have become pro Islam, pro Arab and even pro Turkey ! It is the same for festivals and  cinema distributors. They prefer to  see films to show conservatively  dressed Muslim women and simple romantic villages and simple, odd  villagers and oppressed women  and war victims as in traditional  Iranian films and in Kak Bahman  Ghobadi's great films, often  depicting war victims, especially  cute and lovable children. These liberals and festivals and even some Kurds wish to keep the status quo: not to show our "dancing, drinking wine' modern Kurdish Muslim Layla. Nor to see Saddam photo on a toilet door... nor to mention controversial  Kirkuk, nor Muhammed's 12 wives, nor Armenian genocide, nor 4000 Kurdish villages destroyed by Turkey as our film does....so as to not upset Arabs, Muslims and Turks.

They prefer not to see modern Muslim women like Layla on screen fall in love, kiss, dance, and make love.... Who could deny that Kurdish and Muslin women are also humans- like Kurdish men also possess Nature-given sexuality, sexual desires and sexual rights?

I've lived most of my life in Diaspora. So I'm best in making films about what I know: Kurds in Diaspora.  We have great filmmakers like Kak Bahman to make films from inside Kurdistan. Why should I waste my time and knowhow on those types of traditional Kurdish films?

As qualified Kurdish and foreign film critics have remarked: David & Layla is the first Kurdish movie about Kurds in modern, urban cities.

In a single movie, using the veils of comedy and romance the film breaks the following taboos (as London-based Kurdish cameraman remarked, this film 'crosses several borders"): Sex & Sensuality, Women rights to dance, kiss and make love on screen, Wine, Politics, Israeli-Palestine conflict from a Kurdish point of view, Kissinger's sell out of Kurds, Muhammed's 12 wives, Kurd's view of Islam replacing our \Zoroastrian religiion, Washington's flakiness on Kurdistan,...... So it is has been a long journey for David & Layla.  Now entering my 5th year as single mother of this 10-headed baby!  Without my 18 hours a day around the clock work and more than a million dollars of private money, this baby would have died long ago!

Kurdish Aspect:  What would you like to see from the Kurdish community, and KRG in particular, to help promote the advancement of the Kurdish culture and theater?

Every nation uses Cultural Diplomacy coupled with Political Diplomacy to advance their causes.  Again, except Kurds. 

Kurdish activists need to appreciate that artists do not live on air. They need moral and financial support.  KRG offices need to assign special funds to support and encourage Kurdish artist especially aspiring Kurdish filmmakers. 

A picture is worth a thousand words: a film of moving pictures (of 24 frames per second!) much more!

Film being the combination of the other Man's six arts (Music, Painting, Literature, Theatre, Architecture, Photography). So film making is the most costly and the most difficult and the riskiest of all arts.

So KRG, Kurdish activists, and Kurdish community must above all morally and financially support filmmakers, just like the wonderful art and culture appreciating,  and film-loving Iranians.  Kurdish Aspect:  When can we expect David & Layla out on DVD? Mr. Jonroy:  Good news: Finally we have a European foreign sales agent...but now cinema markets are very weak especially for non-star, true independent American films, especially for a non-politically correct film like David & Layla. There are too many films chasing too few cinemas and channels, and waiting in line to go on DVD. So in most countries including USA, Canada and UK , look for DVD and Cable TV in about 6 to 9 months. 

Kurdish Aspect:  Do you have any other projects in the works?  What can we expect to see from you in the future? 

Mr. Jonroy:  I've GILGAMESH a script based on the 5000 year old Mesopotamian epic poem.  In development with at least 20 re-writes it is finished. If we had our proper Minister of Culture with a Film Office as in France, we could shoot this film with Hollywood stars. This sort film needs big stars and therefore about $100M dollars. So I must next spend a lot of  time in LA to get big talent (that is stars, an almost impossible task!) attached then ironically it will be a lot easier to finance and finish Gilgamesh than the politically-incorrect orphan David & Layla!

In parallel I am developing another independent film also about a Muslim woman in Diaspora like Layla in David & Layla.  I may need to shoot either in LA where I'd be sure to get the appreciative Iranians community's support as they love and appreciate David & Layla. Or, to shoot it in Casa Blanca/Morocco where David & Layla just won Grand Prix du Public against an Arab Muslim (including Iran) and international films at Rabat's prestigious Cinema of d'Auteur, meaning independent films written/directed by one person.

Kurdish Aspect:  Before we close is there anything else you would like to say?

Mr. Jonroy:  May I, through Kurdish Aspect, ask my fellow Kurdish activists in America a question?

Kurdish Aspect:  Go ahead.

Mr. Jonroy:  David & Layla is the first Kurdish American film about Kurds in Diaspora  and their homeland Kurdistan. It is by a Kurdish American filmmaker using his own funds and resources. This Critically-acclaimed and Award winning film has been invited to 25 International Film Festivals including 3 from Israel, 2 from Arab festivals and 4 from Kurdish film festivals in Europe- that is London, Berlin, Vienna and Paris.

All the above Kurdish festivals are organized and funded by mostly poor Kurdish refugees from N. Kurdistan (Turkey) except for London which is a joint effort of  S. and N. Kurdistan Kurds.  David & Layla has been hailed by Kurdish artists and intellectual from LA and NY to London and Berlin as the best-made, the most engaging and most daring of Kurdish films to-date since Yilmaz Guney's films.

When will the wealthier and more comfortable, educated Kurds of America and Canada be proud and honored to invite David & Layla to one of their conferences?

Kurdish Aspect:  Thank you for your time and artistic efforts. 

Readers who wish to receive DVD news need to simply send their emails to DavidandLayla@NewrozFilms.com .

Official Movie Site:   http://DavidandLayla.com

Film Festivals

Oct 11, 7 PM  Vienna Sercawan Film Festival  Cinema de France Schottenring 5, 1010 Wien Vienna, Austria

 Oct 25, 7 PM    Festival du Film Arabe de Bruxelles   Cinema Vendome  18, chaussée de Wavre à 1050  Brussels, Belgium    Oct 28, 10 AM      Jewish Eye - World Jewish Film Festival  Ashkelon International Conversion Center 12 Ben Tzvi Rd Ashkelon, Israel     

Oct 29, 8 PM J ewish Eye - World Jewish Film Festival  Ashkelon International Conversion Center    12 Ben Tzvi Rd,                                 Ashkelon, Israel                                              

Nov 9, 11 AM  AFM- American Film Market, Los Angeles Mann's Criterion Theatre 1313 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA  Nov 22, 8 PM  Festival de Cinéma Kurde de Paris La Filmotheque du Qartier Latin 75005 Paris, France    

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Mr. Jonroy:  Every nation has Cultural Attaches to promote the cultural image of their country. Sadly, except Kurds.  KRG and Kurdish organizations everywhere need to assign qualified people educated in the arts and in literature to encourage and support Kurdish arts and culture.

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