Review: Yarê (2024)

Short Film Competition
Award for Best Short Fiction

Kurdish villages scattered across the barren land between northern Syria and Turkey are left without water due to the burst of a pipeline that Turks do not care to repair. People are promised water trucks day after day, but there is always some kind of new excuse for it not to happen. A little bit of water that is left makes people sick, and the bottled water is traded for sky-high prices that barely anyone can afford to pay.

The Syria-born, Austria-based filmmaker Sallar Othman paints a complex picture of a different kind of oppression that takes place without a drop of blood being spillt, and the power of solidarity that can save lives. A villager is convinced that all neighbouring countries want them dead, the rest are silently contemplaiting their options. On low energy, none of them has the strength to express anger, and elderly warn children againt running because they might get thurstier.

The eponymous Yarê (Rolav Ferec Hac Mihemed) is a strong-willed teenager, who – together with her mother awaits the return of her father and brother who ventured to the city in search of water. In the scorching heat that gives the barren soil the colour of rust, two women can not distract their minds from the only topic that the village is preoccupied with.

Othman, who penned the story for his short drama, isn’t interested in a drab representations of village life, and his focus is completely on one situation and the way people handle it. With Yarê as the film’s central figure he is highlighting the burden of a youth that grew up to think fast and react even faster. The dusty environment gets a touch of softness through the warm palettes of yellow and orange, and bright garments worn by the villagers.

It’s the simplicity of dialogues that does it, and a natural talent that the film’s lead is. Mihemed plays her role with ease, taking us on her strenious journey on foot in search for water. The side characters are particularly well built, and we are introduced to the microcosmos of Rojava through a number of encounters.

Yarê has bagged the Award for Best Short Fiction at Diagonale, where it had its world premiere in the Short Film Competition. The jury compirising of Natascha Gangl (writer, AT), Mo Harawe (director, AT) and Florian Widegger (curator, AT) stated: “With the Diagonale Award for the best short fiction film, we are honouring a work that opens up a world in less than 20 minutes and has made an enormous impression on us viewers with its unadorned staging and clarity: The view of the scarcity of water as a resource, the attempt to avoid any exertion so as not to exhaust oneself, to keep one’s own strength together is reflected in the reduction of the film’s narrative means. There is no such thing as too much. You can hear the screw caps of empty water bottles, plastic canisters, the rolling of a water barrel over sandy fields. The constantly unanswered question of “When will there be water?” drives the plot forward, pushing the titular protagonist to defy her mother’s rules and embark on a heroine’s journey that ends in a dry ditch. We, who see the horizon, no longer see Yarê, only hear her cursing. And stay with her.”

The prize is endowed with € 2,500 donated by O’Carolan’s Irish Pub, € 2,000 – donated by LICHT WERK GRAZ and a voucher worth € 2,000 – donated by The Grand Post – Post Production Houses.


Original Title: Yarê
Year: 2024
Country: Austria
Languages: Kurdish, Arabic
Runtime: 19′
Written and Directed by: Sallar Othman
Assistant Director: Thaer Ibrahim
Producer: Aurélie d’Ardailhon Miramon, Sallar Othman
Production Manager: Ezzedin Bakr
Executive Producer: Ioan GavrielCasting: Thaer Ibrahim
Camera: Sallar Othman, Soran Salih
Sound Mixer: Mustafa Wayes
Editor: Dennis Dornstauder, Sallar Othman
Sound Design: Nora Czamler, Josef Umschaid
Colourist: Ioan Gavriel
Cast: Rolav Ferec Hac Mihemed, Ezîza Nayîf, Delal Behcet Yûnis, Sêrwan Mele, Mihemed Isman Mihemed, Ehmed Mele, Siyar Hisên, Aya Ridwan Emîn, Abo Ammer
Sales: sixpackfilm