Quietly engrossing docu on female Kurdish guerillas, “The Women of Mount Ararat” embeds itself inside a unit of six soldiers, part of an autonomous female army working in tandem with the males. As the women creep, run and dodge along mountain trails against the sweeping backdrop of the former Kurdistan, the War in Iraq remains largely off-screen. But stark one-on-one interviews reveal the horrors that lurk nearby. Helmer Erwann Briand validates the cheerful activism of the women fighting political oppression by Turks and Iraqis as well as social oppression of women within Kurdish society. Well-traveled pic could score at specialized venues Stateside.
Briand demonstrates how the larger political struggle redefines sex roles. After an impromptu gender-divided army volleyball game, the men openly discuss their difficulty in dismissing centuries-old cultural chauvinism and viewing women as equals. While village housewives still defend feudal tribal practices of selling girls in marriage to old men (the suicide rate among young Kurdish women is extremely high), they accept and respect the femme soldiers. Equally at home in their skins, their uniforms, their landscape and their ethnicity, the six diverse guerilla women effortlessly bespeak a Kurdish future.