One Candle, Two Candles… Can’t Make Violence Against Women Funny


While the cinema of Kurdistan isn’t known for its yuks, there are a couple of gentle doozies in Kurdish-American filmmaker Jano Rosebiani’s culture-examining tragicomedy, such as the broken truck that’s sold for its “automatic horn” or the restaurant patron impatiently waiting for his fish meal, not knowing it has yet to be claimed from the river.

Yet the overall comic premise is both clumsy and truly icky, because how exactly do you make progressive good on a “parody of violence against women” logline?

Greedy for a dowry, a Kurdish villager marries off his teenage daughter Viyan (Katrin Ender) to the wealthy Haji Hemmo (Kurdo Galali), a nasty codger much older than his new father-in-law. Refusing to sleep with the creep, Viyan hides out in a tree, only to be beaten more than once for her sins.

The neighboring sitcom support includes a village idiot who steals everyone’s shoes during prayers, a former forced-marriage victim widely known for squeezing the testicles of her transgressors, a public flasher, and a handsome traveling artist who wishes to rescue Viyan from this archaic Sharia law.

In the final shot, Haji Hemmo can be heard screaming from a nut crunch after trying to set his young wife on fire. Punch line!