Before Snowfall

Letter to the King Hisham Zaman

EIFF 2014: ‘Letter to the King’ is a warm and compassionate ensemble piece

Kurdish-Norwegian director Hisham Zaman’s second feature is a well-observed ensemble piece, focusing on five refugees who are given the chance to visit Oslo for the day. They live comfortably in a nearby centre but their uncertain status restricts their freedom and makes them unable to move on with their lives. Each character’s individual story represents an attempt to make a clean break from their situation; they seek legitimacy and progress, in various forms, where it has otherwise been denied.

Before Snowfall

EIFF 2013: ‘Before Snowfall’ follows its protagonist on a nuanced, multicultural journey

Hisham Zaman’s directorial debut opens with Siyar (Abdullah Taher), a 16-year-old boy from Kurdish Iraq, being wrapped from head to toe in cling film. He is preparing to submerge himself in an oil tanker in an attempt to illegally cross the border into Turkey, making for Istanbul where he believes his runaway sister, Nermin (Bahar Ozen), is hiding with her lover. She has escaped an arranged marriage, bringing dishonour to the family, and Siyar has accepted the responsibility of resolving the situation. He embarks on a dangerous journey, replete with perilous border crossings and unfamiliar environments, with the intention of killing Nermin and restoring his family to honour.

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