ÇAVÊN – Test Footage

You take a step forward.
You get closer.
You fix your gaze, searching for differences, but, in the end, find only similarities.

The Syrian fashion designer who produces dresses for princesses while dreaming about France; the Iraqi barber who left Bollywood; the Arab family who rebuilt their home inside the camp; the Kurdish kid who wants to open his own metalware store; the old man, almost executed by Isis, saved by his neighbour.

Fraught destinies, full of stories, dreams and parables, incapable of discouraging those protagonists who live this theatre of horror and moments of joy.

Look into my eyes and tell me who you are.

Çavên — meaning ‘eyes’ in Kurdish — is a non-narrative step closer to the reality of those whose lives are repeatedly mis-portrayed on TV.

For over a month, it was my privilege to have been made welcome in three camps, as if an old friend, by Iraqi, Syrian and Iranian, Muslim and Christian, Arab and Kurdish, refugee and IDP hosts.
Ethnicities, religions, labels.
And yet always two eyes.
Generations enslaved by conflict and divisions are nevertheless ceaseless performers of our communal dreams: a better future, a decent job, peace.

In leaving with my heart full to overflowing, the thank you list this time has become very long.

I would like to thank:

UPP for having supported this mission, during such a precarious moment, without a second thought on more than one occasion, and for protecting us from those who tried in vain to hinder us.

All the staff at Erbil with special thanks to Lia, the big boss, to Number “A” Hisham, my dear cousin Nadir, my bros Mohannad, Hardi and Hoshyar, also to Haitham, Salah and Lena, and Princess Miriam.

All the staff at Sulaymaniah, especially incognito Juventus supporter Sergio, Aunt Ilaria, from whom there’s always a lot to learn, new big boss and juggler Tommaso, social MacGyver Shwan, the brightest star, Haneen, kaka Nawzad, gaga Paola, my pupil Sami, who’s now called to do his very best, and Nael with his Italian-American Dream.

All the staff at Barika, fabulous Shahnaz, dearest Suhaila and her fantastic family, Khalil and Masoud.

Jamil, who never held himself back, doing more than we could have ever hoped, for sharing evenings together talking about war, peace and religion.
Federico for being such an ideal travel companion and having the curiosity to try new things, always with a smile on his face, despite the heavy workload and little sleep.
Teddy and Cecilia for believing and supporting such a dreamer; I’m learning from the importance of your endeavour.
And finally to Novella, who looked right into my eyes.

Now it’s time for a new chapter.

Anna and Marco, you’re on my mind. Silvia and Sabina, you’re next in line.
Teddy and Cecilia, Stefano and Simone, let’s have fun!

PS. I’m really sorry about the cans of tuna. At the time of writing, no-one knows what happened to them… But we’ve got people working on it!

Related photos are from here