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Jiyan is the first and only narrative film made about the chemical attack on Halabja. The film takes place five years after the attack when ex-patriot, Diyari, returns from the USA to build an orphanage. He meets a colorful bunch of townspeople who, despite their bruises, struggle to rebuild their town and along with it, their dreams for a better future.

As described by numerous critics, Jiyan is a sweet, memorable and life-affirming film that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Ratings: Four Stars by the Guardian, The Observer and BBC World.

Awards: Original Selection, Tiger Competition, 31st Int'l Film Festival Rotterdam; Special Jury Award, New Directors Showcase, 28th Seattle Int'l Film Festival; Dolphin Award, 18th Int'l Film Festival FesTroia, Setubal, Portugal; Popular Jury Award, Rights to Have Rights Film Festival, Modena, Italy; Honorable Mention - In The Spirit of Freedom, 19th Jerusalem Film Festival.




Other languages or subtitles: 
Production country: 
United States
Running time (In minutes): 
Digital / DVD
Student film: 
Production year: 
January, 2002
Film Credits
About the Director: 

Jano Rosebiani is a Kurdish/American filmmaker, born and raised in the town of Zakho in Southern Kurdistan. In 1974, then a seventh‐grader, he along with his family joined the Kurdish mass uprising against repression and took to the mountains. Two years later he became a refugee in the Untied States.

Rosebiani acquired his knowledge of film making during his college years in the mid eighties while managing movie theaters and making experimental videos that received local and national awards, among them the Hometown, USA prize in 1987.

In 1995 he made his feature film debut with "Dance of the Pendulum" ‐ a dark comedy parodying exploitation in Hollywood. The film has recently been re-edited and will be re-released under the title "Gods and Clowns".

“Jiyan” (life) is his first Kurdish film made in 2002, intended to be a window to the world for the Kurds. The film received high critical acclaim, including four‐star ratings by The Guardian, The Observer and BBC World, and became a festival favorite, garnering numerous awards.

"Jiyan" is the first Kurdish film to be made in the autonomous Kurdish region with a Kurdish cast and crew. Rosebiani had to smuggle filming equipment into the region through Turkey, and later smuggled the footage out to Belgium where he did the post production.

Rosebiani currently lives in Temecula with his wife, Hezha and two children, Avesta (4) and Janovan (2) while his production company, Evini Films remains based in the Kurdish capital of Erbil.

Film director: 
Jano Rosebiani
Jano Rosebiani
Dolby SR
Cast 1: 
Kurdo Galali - Diyari
Cast 2: 
Pirshang Berzinji - Jiyab
Cast 3: 
Chowman Hawrami - Sherko
Film synopsis: 
Five years following the infamous chemical and biological bombing of Halabja, Diyari, a Kurdish/ American good Samaritan, returns to his homeland to build an orphanage in what is left of Halabja. He meets Jiyan, a ten-year old orphan and a survivor of the chemical attack, doomed to live with a burn scar covering most of her right cheek.. A strong bond between the two ensues and later he names his orphanage after her. During the course of his stay in Halabja, Diyari meets a colorful bunch of townsfolk, many of whom remain physically and/or psychologically marked with the effects of the chemical agents. Among them is Jiyan's only living relative, Shérco, a twelve-year old who has also lost his family to the poison gas. While Shérco dreams of marrying her one day, Jiyan dreams of seeing flowers, a picture of which she finds on the back of a magazine. In addition to building the orphanage, Diyari brings a spark of hope and happiness to Shérco's and Jiyan's lives. However, this affair is short lived. As he leaves, the two orphans turn back to their lonely shells with very little light to look forward to - a familiar state of mind echoing throughout Halabja. Diyari departs with a promise to return, but now leaving a tearful Jiyan at the place where he first meet her - on a swing under a lonely tree on a small lonely hill.
Technical infos
Technical infos
Original Film Format: 
Digital / DVD
Film Sound: 
Dolby SR
Festival Selection, Awards...
Festival selection, awards or citation already received and other comments... :
Already selected in a Festival?: 
Awards received: 
Original Selection, Tiger Competition, 31st Int'l Film Festival Rotterdam; Special Jury Award, New Directors Showcase, 28th Seattle Int'l Film Festival; Dolphin Award, 18th Int'l Film Festival FesTroia, Setubal, Portugal; Popular Jury Award, Rights to Have Rights Film Festival, Modena, Italy; Honorable Mention - In The Spirit of Freedom, 19th Jerusalem Film Festival.
Film reviews: 
Jiyan is a somber and haunting, yet affectionate, charming, and celebratory portrait of human courage, community, dignity, and resilience." -Senses of Cinema - Strictly Cinema School (SFS) "An accomplished and moving feature from writer-director Jano Rosebiani.” -Channel 4, London "Jiyan is a beautiful film, as cherishable as a late spring bloom.” -The Daily Telegraph "Intended as the first part in a trilogy examining contemporary Kurdish experience, self-taught film-maker Rosebiani’s powerful and moving feature tackles head-on one of the most violent episodes in the ongoing oppression of his beleaguered people...The film is at once intimate and expansive, detailing the cycle of hard lives against an unrelenting, challenging but also bleakly beautiful landscape. "...It’s an authentic, compassionate and valuable expression of witness, memory and shared humanity." -Gareth Evans, 46th London Film Festival "Seeing a film like this in the London Film Festival reminds you why you want to be in film making in the first place. It has all the ingredients that make a memorable and fantastic film." -Jaab Mees, Talking Pictures, London "The film takes us to the center of the volcano, so to speak, with a film whose heart and soul are as big and beautiful as the eyes of its brightest star, Pisheng Berzinji, as the orphan Jiyan, 10... not to mention the whole assortment of delightful characters who populate this drama, some who'll make you smile, some who'll make you cry, and all who will make you care." -John Dolen, South Florida Sun-Sentinel "Jiyan gives a human face to the massacre, which despite its magnitude drew only subdued attention from the international community... Kurdish/American filmmaker Jano Rosebiani's drama nonetheless provides moving, often poetic testimony to the tragedy and to the will of the devastated people to heal and rebuild." -David Rooney, Variety "Filmed with a patient, lyrical humanism plainly inspired by such Iranian masters as Kiarostami and Panahi, Jiyan manages to unflinchingly address the horrors man can inflict upon his fellows without surrendering to cynicism or despair." -28th Seattle International Film Festival "Rosebiani... manages to keep his storytelling spry, humorous and as uplifting as it is heartbreaking, while taking us through a litany of the town’s ills." -Eric Moore, 11th Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema "Lyrical and poetic, enchanting and life-enhancing, a subtle interweaving of elements, a tapestry." -Adrian Bailly, Pertier Media, Liverpool, UK "Jiyan is a symbol for Kurdish survival - for the vulnerability of the nation but especially, for its optimism regarding life; the flowers of the protagonist contrast with her scarred face. Jano Rosebiani does not seek revenge, even if one senses his bitterness. He is equally interested in the insecurity the future holds as he is in the poetry and the vitality of the orphans. This dualism is the source of the film's poetic lyricism, of its opening and closing images." -19th Jerusalem Film Festival "[Cinematographer] Koutaiba’s genuine eye for the beauty and hardship on the faces of the Kurdish people is very impressive indeed...Truly inspiring films like Jiyan should be cherished and talented filmmakers like Jano Rosebiani should be embraced." -Jaab Mees, Talking Pictures, London "This moving, deeply compassionate story is a plea for us to take the Kurdish question, in all its aspects, seriously." -14th Galway Film Fleadh, Ireland
Film distribution
Sales/distribution name: 
Lana Poole
Knightbridge International Paris, France
Publicity Infos
Publicity contact: 
Lana Poole
Publicity contact email: 
Trailer availble: 
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Rosebiani Jano
(Eviny Films)

Jiyan a movie by Rosebiani Jano




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