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Banaz: A Love Story (2012)

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This is a documentary film chronicling the brutal Honour Killing of Banaz Mahmod, a young British Kurdish woman in London, killed by her own family for choosing a life for herself.


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Credited cast:
Nazir Afzal ...
Himself - Crown Prosecution Service, London
Bobbie Cheema ...
Herself - Prosecutor
Andy Craig ...
Himself - Detective Sergeant, Met Police
Caroline Goode ...
Herself - Detective Chief Inspector, Met Police
Banaz Mahmod ...
Bekhal Mahmod ...
Herself - Banaz's sister
Diana Nammi ...
Herself - Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation
Joanne Payton ...
Herself - Honour Based Violence Awareness Network
Stuart Reeves ...
Himself - Detective Sergeant, Met Police
Palbinder Singh ...
Himself - Metropolitan Police Sikh Association
Victor Temple ...
Himself - Prosecutor (as Victor Temple QC)


This is a documentary film chronicling the brutal Honour Killing of Banaz Mahmod, a young British Kurdish woman in London, killed by her own family for choosing a life for herself.

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September 2012 (UK)  »

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"Transforms a few fragments of a life..."
27 December 2013 | by (Norway) – See all my reviews

Pakistani-Norwegian singer, producer and director Deeyah Khan's debut documentary feature which she produced, was written by screenwriters Darin Prindle, Honora Foah and Hamilton Craig and is inspired by personal experiences, real events in the life of a 21-year-old Western Asian female emigrant who on the 24th of January in London, England in 2006 was inhumanly murdered by her family and "many" other women who are no longer present in this world because of honour killings. It premiered at the 20th Raindance Film Festival in 2012, was screened in the Checkpoints-In competition section at the 14th Bergen International Film Festival in 2013, was shot on locations in England and is a United Kingdom-Norway co-production. It tells the story about an Iraqi-born woman named Banaz Mahmod who as a ten-year-old girl in the mid-1990s escaped from the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq to the capital city of England with her father, mother, brother and four sisters, and who as a 17-year-old in the early 2000s after having lived in London, England for seven years, entered an arranged married with a man from her family's community whom she had nothing in common with.

Distinctly and subtly directed by Pakistani-Norwegian filmmaker Deeyah Khan, this quietly paced and somewhat biographical documentary which is narrated by the director, through transcripts, text messages, photographs and letters and from multiple viewpoints, draws a righteously unflattering and rigorously dense portrayal of an unloved daughter's unheard voice, shattered dignity and fearful life under constant surveillance and, according to herself, the most vile forms of abuse. While notable for its variegated and atmospheric milieu depictions and fine soft focus cinematography by cinematographer Jeremiah Chapman which interprets Banaz's viewpoint and refers to her nickname "Naska", this narrative-driven story about identity, honour-based violence and honour killings where collectivism dishonorably kills individualism and which all though being incomparable, bares some thematic resemblances to Austrian filmmaker Feo Aladag's "When We Leave" (2010), reexamines a criminal case regarding the unfulfilled life of a Kurdish-English woman in her early twenties whose death was triggered by a kiss and who in a collective, organized, cowardly and unjustifiable manner was subjected to a revolting crime, committed by her closest relatives who by following their self-regulated laws in a country which had granted them with residence permits and by condemning their own flesh and blood to capital punishment for, in their particular view, having dishonored them and their community by instigating a clandestine relationship with another man than her spouse, severely disrespected international laws and the norms within a society which like all civilized societies does not allow or condone manslaughter, contains conscientious, brave and informative interviews with people related to Banaz and her case and a timely score by Indian composer Dr. L. Subramaniam.

This staggeringly pointed and legitimately somewhat subjective non-fictional directorial debut which emphasizes the importance of increasing awareness regarding honour-based mentality and the regressive impact it has on contemporary societies, which is set mostly in England in the 21st century and where a human being is more hunted down like a prey than she is ostracized and where a genuinely remarkable English Detective chief inspector named Caroline Goode who led the search for Banaz Mahmod's body and her killers, and other police officers whom she worked with really exemplifies revering police work, is impelled and reinforced by its fragmented narrative structure, subtle continuity, efficient use of archival footage, distinctly affective scenes of Banaz Mahmod and the noticeable style of filmmaking which captures the confinement of Banaz which is envisaged in Caroline Goode's interpretation of her thoughts : "If I escape I am dead, if I go back to my family I am dead." A heartfelt remembrance and gracefully understated love-story which transforms a few fragments of a life into greater dimensions and which gained, among other awards, the award for Best Norwegian Documentary at the 14th Bergen Film Festival in 2013.

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