The long-awaited documentary film Nameyên ji Şengalê (Letters from Shengal) made its cinema debut on Thursday in Celle, Germany. Directed by Dersim Zerevan, the gripping six-part film chronicles the resistance of the Yazidi community against the Islamic State (ISIS) following the devastating attack on Sinjar (Shengal), the Yazidi homeland in northern Iraq, on 3 August 2014.
Before the premiere of the film, an emotional public memorial service was held outside the cinema to honour the victims of the genocide that took place exactly nine years ago. Braving heavy rain, numerous supporters and Yazidi associations gathered in the centre of Celle for the solemn event. Yazidi cleric Şêx Husên led the commemoration with prayers and a minute’s silence in honour of those who died in Sinjar.
Throughout the ceremony, impassioned speeches by various speakers highlighted the resilience and faith of the Yazidi community, despite enduring multiple genocides and mass killings. Xatê Geyikci, co-chair of the Yazidi Cultural Centre, and representatives of the Yazidi Women’s Councils eV (SMJÊ) and the Central Association of Ezidi Associations eV (NAV-YEK) called for the acceleration of reconstruction efforts in Sinjar and recognition of the genocide as well as the autonomous administrative and defence units established in the region to protect the Yazidi community.
Advocates also called for the recognition of the Yazidi community as an independent religious entity, stressing the need for decisive action to prevent a recurrence of similar atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity as the region remains unstable.
Letters from Shengal reveals the horrors experienced by the Yazidis during the ISIS onslaught on Sinjar, which saw systematic slaughter, rape, torture and forced displacement.
The film, made in the exact place where the events happened, was produced by the Rojava Film Community and Kurdish Nujiyan Productions, in collaboration with the Italian company Far Out Films.
Despite the film’s heartbreaking portrayal of events, it also serves as a testament to the courage and determination of the Yazidi community to rebuild their lives and strive for self-governance. Their unwavering commitment to preserving their culture and faith remains steadfast, even in the midst of ongoing challenges.