Kurdish Lover (2010)

By José Sarmiento Hinojosa

Today, it becomes fundamental to talk about the works of Clarisse Hahn. Few people in the history of cinema have blended the corporeality of the individual, the mere essence of the body, as a political statement and an ontological reality of certain societies within the confines of power relations. Her work, currently being featured at La Cinematheque Francaise, is being programmed by Nicole Brenez, whose clarity about the work of Clarisse is overwhelming: “Being centred in the work of the body, Clarisse shocks for her frontal way of taking presence of others’ habits,with a longing, secure rawness”. And for sure, never the body had felt as such a political weapon, and few times film has taken the role of not only mere capturing, but being a live document for these acts of resistance of people who are being pushed to the limit.

Documentary films such as Hopital (1999) and Karima (2000) deal with extremes, with people presented with different extreme realities of the rawness palpable difficulties of life: death, sex, pain, oblivion, the body as a vessel of life, pleasure, pain, adoration, different paradoxes that take over and over again. With Kurdish lover (2010), Clarisse explores the daily interactions of a community overcrowded  by the physical presence of the body and the rapports that happen in world semi suspended in time: shamanistic rituals, animal sacrifices, and the roles of man and woman in front of old traditions. Yet the camera of Hahn is never judgemental, her narrative is never leading you somewhere. The relentless middle shots usually present in her filmography claim authorship of observation and documentation, in the vein of an inquisitive Wang Bing, with different concerns about documenting.

Our Body is a Weapon (2012) , the trilogy of Los Desnudos, Prisions and Gerrilla, all destined for a simultaneous installation, shows the body as an element of political resistance: in 2000, as a protest on Turkish prisons, the Kurdish Rebelions of the PKK, and the protests of Mexican naked bodies, people whose land was stripped away for the government. This are probably the most powerful images of her body of work: the representation of political statements and the desire to be embedded in film for posterity as a way of survival, if only maybe on memory, the essence of resistance.


Accompanying this text, we exchange some words with Clarisse in an interesting interview about Kurdish Lover.

You can watch an extract of Kurdish Lover here.