Switzerland | 2017 | 102 min | English, Kurdish, German | Director Attending
In this delicate, tragic drama, Mira, a young, bored Swiss woman, goes in search of her father in Iraqi Kurdistan—a father she has only ever seen in a few photos but whom she has placed on a pedestal. There she discovers a confusing reality in which violence, terrorism and score-settling coexist with a never-ending yearning for calm and peace, and mention of her father provokes morbid reactions. But, in this frightening world, Mira also finds love. The landscapes framing The Swallow are so majestic as to make us feel small and exposed, whilst the horror which undermines their beauty is at once brutal and hyper-real. Ultimately, The Swallow asks whether Mira will be able to consolidate her experiences abroad with her everyday life in Switzerland—so providing us with a channel to reflect on the experience of the thousands of migrants to cosmopolitan European cities.
Kurdish-Syrian filmmaker Mano Khalil was born in 1964. He studied history and law at Damascus University and film direction in the former Czechoslovakia. From 1990 to 1995 he worked as an independent director for Czechoslovakian and later Slovakian Television. Since 1996, he has lived in Switzerland, where he founded Frame Film. Mano’s documentary and fiction shorts include My God (1990), Kino-ocko (1995), David the Tolhildan (2007) and Our Garden of Eden (2010). He also directed the feature documentary The Beekeeper (2013) which was shown at DIFF 2014. “The Swallow … was made a few days before Isis took the city of Mosul,” says Mano. “It’s a love story, but it’s also a political story. In our country, even love between two people is political. There is no space to breathe. It’s about terrorism, war crimes in Iraq and love.”