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Heroines of the Battlefield

Filles du feu – Fuori concorso

Heroines of the Battlefield

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A small group of women walking in an open, dry landscape. Spotting fragments of a corpse dug out by a dog, they cover it with heavy stones. Upon reaching a greener patch, they start picking bouquets of herbs in a harmonious, joint movement. From the first minutes of Stéphane Breton’s captivating documentary Filles du Feu, these ladies in war gear are filmed in a way that conveys both the raw sensations of life on a battlefield, as well as inextricably inserting them within landscapes. Mobile, resolute figures at the heart of the land they strive to defend against oppressors.

It is the Kurdish region of Syria, which its people call Rojava, and where women stand side by side with men in perfect comradeship, lending their organizational talent to tactical planning. Like nuns entering the convent, they have given up on the things that drive people to avoid conflict at all cost: a home, a family. And contrary to their opponents, their sacrifice comes from solidarity with their people and abnegation, not zealotry. Islamists fear them, convinced that they will not be granted access to paradise if they are killed by a woman.

As we listen to an experienced female fighter evoking her fallen companions and watch her methodically prepare for an assault, we are shaken by the certainty that war should not have to be waged at all.

Aurélie Godet
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