AFP – The globe-trotting French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy made a dramatic late entry into the Cannes film festival Monday with a “close-up look” at the Kurds’ battle against the Islamic State group in Iraq.
The dashing self-styled “militant philosopher” made the documentary about peshmerga fighters leading the fight against IS with “just a small team in tow,” the festival organizers said.
“The director traveled 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) along the Iraqi frontier, from south to north, filming war situations, landscapes and the faces of men and women rarely seen in the wider world,” they added.
The 67-year-old philosopher — long a supporter of the secular Kurdish cause — filmed battles between Kurdish autonomous region forces and the jihadists for “Peshmerga.”
His producers said the film, which will be premiered on Friday, was shot on the front lines around Kirkuk and Sinjar, and that they used drone cameras to get images from inside the IS-held city of Mosul.
“The film is a homage to the brave (Kurdish) men and women who are defying death to become the world’s rampart against the Islamic State,” Margo Cinema said in a statement.
While IS “act tough for the camera while slitting the throats of defenseless hostages, they scattered like rabbits” when faced with the Kurds, Levy wrote last year in The Wall Street Journal.
Levy said he wanted the film to give a “moral recognition” to a Kurdish homeland “on this the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement (between France and Britain during World War I) that set in stone the dismemberment of the Kurdish people into four different countries.”
An estimated 25 to 35 million Kurds are spread between Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.
“This film pleads that the injustice done to the ‘People of the Mountains’ be remedied,” he added.
‘Desert fashion shoot’
The thinker, a major media figure in France known by his initials “BHL,” is credited with persuading former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to help Libyan rebels topple dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
His film about his role in putting an international coalition together to help the rebels, “The Oath of Tobruk,” was also a late entry to the festival the following year.
One critic at the time called it “a mammoth ode to Bernard-Henri Levy, narrated by Bernard-Henri Levy, directed by Bernard-Henri Levy, starring Bernard-Henri Levy.”
The film industry bible Variety noted that “followers of global politics will be surprised to learn that Bernard-Henri Levy is responsible for the downfall of Gaddafi.”
It went on to accuse him of treating the “Libyan desert as little more than a GQ fashion shoot” for his trademark perfectly pressed white shirts.
But there was widespread acclaim for the philosopher’s 1994 film “Bosna!”, an unheeded plea for international intervention to halt the Bosnian war.