Book Chapter: Conflict and resistance on screen: on the films of Halil Dağ

Smets, K. & Akkaya, A.H. (2016). Conflict and resistance on screen: on the films of Halil Dağ. In Koçer, S. & Candan, C. (eds.), Kurdish Documentary Cinema in Turkey: The Politics and Aesthetics of Identity and Resistance. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 191-208


There has been a growing interest in the relationship between armed conflict and media culture. While most studies focus on questions concerning the reproduction and representation of conflicts, little is still known about media production practices that occur at the heart of contemporary violent conflicts. Yet they may provide us with first-hand and unique resources to understand the experiences and motivations of different conflict actors, as well as the imaginative and creative languages that are employed in conflict settings. Adding new complexity to the field of conflict and media culture, this article focuses on cinematic production as part of the ‘culture of resistance’ that characterizes armed non-state actors such as guerrilla groups. More specifically, the study discusses the life and work of Halil Dağ (also known as Halil Uysal or Xelîl Uysal, 1973-2008) against the background of the Kurdish conflict in south-eastern Turkey. An autodidact filmmaker, Dağ was equally part of the Kurdish guerrilla that fought with the Turkish army. Although his legacy is limited to 5 low-budget films and a written memoire, Dağ’s status within the Kurdish movement is highly symbolic. Our contribution will explore Dağ’s work with regard to his documentary and ‘immediacy’ film style, his significance as a role model for the young generation of Kurdish filmmakers, and his potential to enrich our theoretical understandings of the relation between cinema and conflict.

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