Portrait photography has a way of humanizing even the most distant situations. And so with this goal in mind, this young photographer and filmmaker set out on a mission that would be completely self-funded and independent. His purpose was to determine if the Kurdish fighters were indeed fearless warrior men and women or if they were actually terrorists operating as opportunists in a bloody war.
Joseph’s first meeting is with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Makhmour. Heavily armed men and women in traditional Kurdish outfits patrol the countryside. This place was the site of recent violent clashes between Islamic state militants and Kurdish forces. The official military gets a lot of attention in the mainstream press, but guerilla groups play extremely important roles in battles against the Islamic state. They are seen as local heroes.
Even though the United States sees the PKK as a terrorist group, in Makhmour they’re supported by coalition air strikes. The members of this group are not only kind, but also hospitable. Their warm and bubbly nature can be deceiving at times.
They follow the ideology of their leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who wrote a manifesto titled The National Road to the Kurdish Revolution. The PKK willingly leave their families and material possessions to live a life of complete dedication to the Kurdish resistance. The only entertainment at the first camp is a television set and a bookshelf; warriors should also be well-read intellectuals.
Across the border in Syria, it’s clear that another group called the People’s Protection Units (YPG) is in full control. This is a guerilla force of men and women who are fighting beside each other. They also follow the teachings of Abdullah Ocalan. This group has an all- female wing that specializes in women issues. When the ISIS fighters hear the voices of women it makes their morale fall and they draw back because they believe that being killed by a woman is a disgrace and it prohibits them from entering paradise.
ISIS is allegedly recruiting people from all over the world to fight for them. So a few Europeans and Americans have volunteered to fight alongside the Kurds. They believe that since the governments aren’t doing much to destroy ISIS, it’s up to ‘normal’ people to step in and fight. Joseph meets one such warrior in Tal Tamer, fighting for what he believes to be right.
According to the ISIS ideology, all non-believers should be eradicated or enslaved and doing so is not a sin. That’s why they attack and massacre the Kurds. If you’ve ever wondered what evil sounds like, watch this film now.