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Directed by Zaynê Akyol
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ROJEK encounters members of the Islamic State as well as their wives detained in prison-camps, who are sharing a common dream: establishing a caliphate. Confronted with the fundamentalist beliefs of the jihadists, the film attempts to trace the beginning, the rise and fall of the Islamic State (ISIS) through their personal stories. These conversations are the thread along which the documentary evolves, as it is intertwined with various sequences depicting current, post-war Syrian Kurdistan.

ROJEK offers an intimate gaze at an unknown reality, testifying of pivotal moments experienced by the actors of this conflict. The film tackles how this ideological war is only the beginning of a new kind of threat.

“A deeply unsettling exploration of morality and terror.” —The Globe and Mail

“Rojek is a work of poetic inquisitiveness years-in-the-making. This absorbing and admirably even-handed documentary looks the beast in the eye to weigh the context, cost, and consequences of fundamentalism.” —POV Magazine

“An astringent, devastating and truly extraordinary film that is hard work to watch, but entirely worth it… Akyol presents a work that impacts the viewer on a visceral level thanks to top-notch craftsmanship. While everything onscreen impresses, I couldn’t help wondering what kind of dogged effort must have gone into getting permission from the current authorities to interview these subjects, a feat of film-making persistence that probably deserves an award in itself.” —The Guardian

“Offers an insight into the seemingly impenetrable, monolith group and paints the extremist faction through its affiliates, who are – unlike their general perception by media and the public – distinguishable and diverse.” —Modern Times Review

“It’s a truly disturbing doc, illuminating a mindset that is difficult to comprehend but that must be understood if there is to ever be anything close to an attempt at peaceful coexistence.” —Awards Daily

“Highly recommended. This is one of DOC NYC’s most important films.” —Unseen Films

“An unexpected look at a far-reaching current political issue and a film whose subject matter and rhythm create an impressive cinematographic object.” —AV Club

“An important, and at times disorienting glimpse of former ISIS fighters imprisoned in Syria… [ROJEK] invites viewers to consider uncomfortable questions of war, religion, life, and death in the context of the wider purposes of humanity on the fragile planet that we all share.” —Educational Media Reviews Online

“An audacious mission to continue bearing witness in the face of loss.… Those who watch to reaffirm their preconceived notions will likely be both vindicated and, at times, utterly dumbstruck by the seemingly expansive range of viewpoints on display here.” —Brooklyn Rail

Visions du Réel 2022
DGC Special Jury Prize, Hot Docs 2022
Jury Special Mention, Golden Apricot 2022
RIDM 2022
New Voices Award, Gimli International Film Festival 2022
Nouvelles Vagues Acuitis Award, The La Roche-sur-Yon International Film Festival 2022
Second Prize, Seminci Valladolid International Film Festival 2022
Best Cinematography, MIRAGE – Art of the Real Festival 2022
Best Film Testimony (Special Mention), Ji.Hlava International Documentary Film Festival 2022
Artistic Expression Award, MedFilm Festival 2022
Mention of Honor (International Features Competition), FIDBA 2022
Director’s Award, Quebec Directors’ Association 2023
Main Award (Be Honest! Category), BIDF 2023
Jury’s Grand Prize, Festival International du Film Politique de Carcassonne 2023
Jury Award, Docville International Documentary Film Festival 2023
Special Jury Award, EBS International Documentary Festival (EIDF) 2023
DOC NYC 2023

127 minutes / Color
Arabic; Kurdish; French; English / English subtitles
Closed Captioned
Release: 2023
Copyright: 2022

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This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Middle East, Politics, Islam

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