Scen.: Grigory Balasanyan, Patvakyan Barkhudaryan, Amasi Martirosyan, Gurgen Marinosyan. F.: Boris Zavelyov. Scgf.: Stepan Taryan. Int.: Grachiya Nersesyan (Djalal), Asmik (Yusupova), Avet Avetisyan (Bro), Mikael Manvelyan (Tumo), Mkrtych Djanan (Khano), Grigor Avetyan (Yusupov), Tigran Ayvazyan (Sheikh), L. Zavaryan (l’insegnante), Khachik Abramyan (Khurshud), K. Gegamyan (Kulak). Prod.: Armenkino. 35mm. L.: 1405 m. D.: 61’ a 20 f/s. Bn.
The director Amasi Martirosyan’s interest in this Kurdish theme started with his acting experience in Hamo Beknazaryan Zare (1926), the first film about the hard life of the Kurds during the Tsarist regime. Unlike Zare, Kurdy-Ezidy portrays the changes in the life of the Yezidi Kurds during the early years of Soviet rule.
The plot of Martirosyan’s film evolves around the struggle of the new Government with illiteracy and the religious prejudices of the Kurdish population that allowed continuing exploitation of the most vulnerable social classes. The exploiters, sheikhs and kulaks, attempt to sabotage the Soviets’ struggle for the peasants’ rights and freedom. Moreover the film shows the exploitation of women’s labour in the patriarchal Kurdish society. Kurdy-Ezidy was intended to be a part of the Soviet Government’s propaganda campaign for the introduction of the alphabet, and was in compliance with the type of the so-called politprosvetfilm (political and educational films). For these reasons some critics refused to see the film as a serious artwork, regarding the way it was made as simplistic.
However, many reviewers voiced an opposite opinion writing about the evident qualities of the film, such as the director’s ethnographic approach, the film’s focus on the realistic details, the vividness of the characters and the rare harmony between the theater actors and the natural settings. The objectivity of the camera and shooting on location made the film an important document that registered the historical moment of literacy. At the same time, the documentary style strengthened the propaganda orientation of the film script and conveyed a strong statement, particularly in the final scene that documents the organization of the livestock collective farms.
According to the first version of the montage list preserved in Gosfilmofond, the film was meant to begin with the quotation from Stalin: “If you are left behind and you are weak, it means you are wrong. Therefore, you are allowed to be beaten and enslaved”. In the course of the script Stalin is quoted one more time, when the protagonist Jalal, the former shepherd, becomes the head of a dairy cooperative: “If you are powerful – it means you’re right, and one has to beware of you”. According to the reviews, this directive was received with particular enthusiasm by the Kurdish audience that welcomed the screenings of Kurdy-Ezidy with the ‘anti-kulak’ slogans.