THE GUARDIAN (DIE WÄCHTERIN)
A film by Martina Priessner
Duration: 88 minutes/ 2020/ Germany/ Kurdish and Turkish with English Subtitles
For 18 years, the Syrian Orthodox nun Dayrayto lives on the grounds of a church in Zaz, a dilapidated and abandoned Assyrian village in southeastern Turkey. Together with the monk Abuna she cared for the church for fourteen years. Ever since the monk died four years ago Dayrayto lives alone with her two dogs, a cow, chicken, and three cats. She is vulnerable to multiple threats. Her presence in the region is a thorn in the side of many local actors. There has always been hostilities from the Muslim side and little support from her own community. Lately, the situation is getting worse and Dayrayto fears for her dog’s life, which she believes has been deliberately poisoned. The camera follows Dayrayto through her everyday life and observes her struggle for survival, her worries and hardships as fear and loneliness are her constant companions. And yet, Dayrayto is a courageous and fearless woman - she promised Abuna to never leave this holy place and to protect the church, no matter what.
Martina Priessner is a documentary filmmaker and author who lives in Berlin and Istanbul and has been working on German-Turkish migration for many years. She obtained her degree in Social Sciences at the Humboldt University of Berlin. In 2010, she made the documentary film Wir sitzen im Süden (We're Sitting in the South), which was nominated for the Grimme Prize. In 2013 she documented the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul through the found footage film EVERYDAY I’M CAPULING. From 2008 to 2010, she worked at Ballhaus Naunynstraße in Berlin as a dramaturge and curator. During this time she curated, among others, the theatre course Kahvehane - Turkish Delight, German Fright? Anatolian Coffee Houses in Kreuzberg and Neukölln. She has received grants from Nipkow, DEFA and the Tarabya Cultural Academy. Most recently, she worked as an IPC-Mercator Fellow on language and migration at the Istanbul Policy Center from September 2014 to August 2015, realising the film 650 Words. Her most recent film, The Guardian, a portrait of a Syrian Orthodox nun in southeastern Turkey, premiered in the German competition at DOK LEIPZIG 2020. It was awarded the documentary film prize of the Goethe Institute.
Goethe Institut Documentary Film Prize, DOK Leipzig International Film Festival 2020
Special Mention at Boston Turkish Film Festival 2021
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