Hiner Saleem fights for the rights of Kurds, which explains why the action of My Sweet Pepper Land takes place at the border between Iran and Turkey. The story unfolds in an isolated village where Baran, a Kurdish independence war hero who has just arrived, falls in love with Govend, a charming school teacher with twelve brothers who are a little over protective. Their love story seems jeopardised.
How did your film come about?
After my last film Si tu meurs, je te tue which was shot in the heart of Paris with a lot of actors, I wanted to go somewhere else, to make a film in the mountains of Mesopotamia with just one actor and a small cast. I criticise this country during the day and make it purer at night. I wanted to tell its story, to talk of love so to talk about women.
In some countries, women are like an occupied territory due to the influence of religion. I wanted to liberate them for one and a half hours. Then, other characters were created and I found myself with lots of characters, quite a large number of technicians and my original idea became a colossal task.
Do you have a memory or a story of the set?
The actor who plays Zirek, the school teacher, is a Kurdish journalist from Syria. We met during a dinner party. We shot with him for three days, and he was due to come back a few days later for the last scenes. But he didn’t like the acting experience and we lost him. He disappeared! We needed him but was he still alive? The production team was panicked and went after him. We found his trace in Alep which was at war. He didn’t want to come back to the set. We sent people to bring him back to the border, and were ready to kidnap him if necessary! We were able to film with him for one more day before he slipped through our fingers again.
Wednesday 22 May / Debussy Theatre / 10.15p.m.