The present film, 'The Return,' is directly connected to the tragic events that effected the Yazidis on August 2014. My initial plan to make a documentary on their history and culture changed completely.
For some time I was looking for an opportunity to make a documentary on the Yazidis. I think this idea is shared by many of those filmmakers who might have once visited the lands of Yazidis in the North of Iraq and Syria, Southeast of Turkey, and The Caucasus.
Apparently, the Yazidis are different from people living around them. These magnificent people have always amazed me: they look physically different and the way they think, their silence and their rituals have made them a splendor. Their costumes, their lifestyle, their unique music and dancing, and indeed their tragic history are symbols of their relentless struggle to survive and to preserve their existence and religion in hostile environments. The more I made research on the Yazidis, the more I discovered the beauty and magnificence of these people. Unfortunately, for some reasons I was not able to make this film in 2013 and when at the beginning of 2015 I was at last ready to start, the situation has completely changed.
On August 3, 2014 Daesh (ISIS) attacked the regions populated by the Yazidis and as a result of that act of genocide, more than 430 000 members of the Kurdish Yazidi community fled their homes, 6 000 of them were 'missing' and almost 2000 more were brutally murdered by Daesh terrorists. 3 500 girls and women were taken as sex slaves and sold in slave trading markets. This information and many more gruesome details have been extensively broadcast globally.
Now, as I look back at the notes that I wrote in 2013 on the Yazidis, I often ask myself if Daesh hadn't attacked them in 2014, what kind of documentary would I have made? I guess, after reading some of my notes from that time, we could find the answer to that question.
The Yazidis are a Kurdish religious minority who speak Kurdish. They practice one of the oldest religions in the world. Their beliefs date back to 4000 years ago. Their total number is around 1 500 000 and the biggest community lives in Iraq.
Traditional areas of Yazidi population in Kurdistan (contemporary Iraq)
The Yazidis have had a very harsh history. The duty of preserving their religion has always weighted heavily on their shoulders and I think that their religion is a very rich spiritual and cultural asset to the entire globe.
Yezidism is a monotheist religion. The Yazidis' belief is founded on the principle that in order to know and worship God, mankind does not need the help from anyone. The path to reach God should not be complicated. Yezidism is a religion of thought and contemplation of nature. They believe all matters in nature are symbols of God, especially the sun which is God's light. That's why, on every sunrise, regardless of wherever he or she might be, a Yazidi turns to the sun and prays the Almighty to provide to all men, animals, and plants. The Yazidis respect all religions and are extremely tolerant towards anyone and anything that wishes them well. They have been good neighbors to other communities and expect the same treatment from their neighbors. But they have never denied the fact that under no circumstances will they ever repudiate their religion.
Lack of truthful information regarding the principles of the religion of the Yazidis on the one hand, and on the other, the diffusing of distorted and wholly unjust facts about their beliefs have often paved the way to different groups of people to eradicate their culture and assimilate them. Yazidis claim that throughout their history, there were 72 attempts to annihilate them and Daesh's recent barbaric attack counts for the 73th. But, contrarily to the crimes and unprecedented level of violence against them, the Yazidis belief in God and the force of Good and Evil has become even stronger. They have not allowed the hatred and revenge to penetrate their mind and soul because they believe the soul is immortal and when somebody dies, his or her soul incarnates in somebody else's body.
In 2014 Daesh tried to destroy the Yazidis, but even before that and for the duration of entire centuries, the unfriendliness and sometimes hostile attitude of some groups and governments toward the Yazidis has paved the way to a situation where in the present time some people have dared to cause such a terrible tragedy on them.