Story starts off around Cheto (George Corraface), a good-looking militant-in-exile in Paris who belongs to a motley political group struggling for “the liberation of Kurdistan.” The time has come to take a wife. With supreme hypocrisy, he continues to see his French girlfriend, Christine (Stephanie Lagarde), who works at the immigration office, while scanning home-made videotapes for a suitable bride from back home. After choosing a beautiful, sexy girl guaranteed to be “a virgin and a patriot,” Cheto and his encouraging buddies are dismayed to see her homely sister Mina (Marina Kobakhidze) turn up at the airport in her place.
At first Cheto refuses to wed the unordered girl, but pressure from Uncle Ismet (Turkish thesp Tuncel Kurtiz) and the rest of his family forces him to go through with a spectacular wedding. Here film shifts its p.o.v. sympathetically to Mina, a country girl with braids and red circles of rouge on her cheeks. Totally humiliated by Cheto’s ill treatment, which increases after their marriage, she gradually absorbs the feminist ideas of Leila (Schahla Aalam) and the other women in the group. Mina’s self-liberation and Cheto’s comeuppance combine in a satisfying happy ending.
Saleem’s perspective on these nostalgic Kurds (pic tells us there are 100,000 living in Paris) ranges from understanding to distanced. It is refreshing, for once, to see Western culture acknowledged to have a civilizing influence on certain native attitudes — in this case, the macho view of women. The film also openly criticizes the ham-handed terror tactics used by the militants to exact a monthly “tax” from Kurdish businessmen and merchants in the name of their worthy cause.
The versatile Corraface fits the main role perfectly, showing Cheto as caught between two cultures and perpetually uncertain about what behavior to go for. Young Georgian thesp Kobakhidze makes a dignified Mina, shedding her gold tooth and peasant clothes as her self-confidence grows. Though it’s hard to believe she could make so much progress in just a year, her efforts have the viewer’s sympathy.
What the technical work lacks in finesse it makes up for in bringing out the colorful, often kitsch side of this Kurdish subculture.