Special Screenings – The Legend of the Ugly King: Documentary exploring the life of Yilmaz Güney screened at Duhok IFF a few days after the world premiere at TIFF.


The 5th Duhok International Film Festival is honored to present The Legend of the Ugly King a documentary film directed by Hüseyin Tabak as part of the Special Screenings programme. This is considered a very special occasion since it will be the second screening of the film internationally after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. 


On the 14th of September, the film will be present in the presence of its producer Mr. Mehmet Aktaş, founder of mîtosfilm, an independent film production company based in Berlin, as well as, Mrs. Elif Güney Pütün, Mr. Güney’s daughter. 



The film is the director’s search for the life of the legendary Kurdish filmmaker and results in the painting of a biographical picture depicted through the eyes and testimonies of his family, friends and former collaborators. 33 years after his death, The Legend of the Ugly King is documentation as well homage to the director’s rich as well as turbulent life. 


Hüseyin Tabak is a German Kurdish film director. His first feature film Your Beauty is Worth Nothing premiered in Karlovy Vary and won six Turkish film awards in 2012. It also won the Austrian Film Award in four categories: Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Music. In 2013 Tabak's second feature film The Horse on the Balcony was released in cinemas, screened at TIFF Kids, and won Best Film at Chicago Children's Film Festival. 


During Mehmet Aktaş’s career, he has proven himself as a successful writer as well as producer. His recent production Reseba – The Dark Wind (2016), for which Aktas also wrote the script, was awarded as Best Muhr Fiction Feature in Dubai International Film Festival, Grand Newcomer Award in International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg and won the UNESCO Cultural Diversity Award at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. House Without Roof (2016) directed by Soleen Yusef and produced by Mehmet Aktas won the Special Grand Jury Award at the Montréal World Film Festival and the First Steps Award for Best Feature Film. Memories on Stone (2014) by director Shawkat Amin Korki, for which Aktas has written the script as well as produced the film, won various prizes in film festivals around the world, among which, Best Film of the Arab World at Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Best Film at 52 Antalya International Film Festival and the Unesco Prize at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.


Memories on Stone was also the official Oscar entry from Iraq. He is well known for films such as Before Snowfall by the director Hisham Zaman which won the Dragon Award Best Nordic Film at the Göteborg International Film Festival and Bahman Ghobadi's No One Knows About Persian Cats (2009), that won the Prize Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival. For his work as a scriptwriter, Aktaş received the Best Script Amanda Award (Norway) and Best Screenplay Award at the Carthage Film Festival with Letter To The King (2014) by Hisham Zaman. 


This production is the outcome of a long-term collaborative project between Mr. Tabak and Mr. Aktaş that spanned over five years to be completed. The developments of the storyline lead them to several locations in Turkey, KRG (Iraq), France, Germany, and Austria. 


The cast of the film includes a diverse number of leading names from the world film industry such as Michael Haneke, Costa-Gavras, Tahir Yüksel, Gilles Jacob, Donat Keusch, Jack Lang, Elif Güney Pütün, Ahmet Zirek, and Tarik Akan 


Film Synopsis 

They called him The Ugly King! A myth, a hero, a film legend. Who was Yilmaz Güney? A highly talented director? A revolutionary? A murderer? A genius or a lunatic? Young director Hüseyin Tabak is looking for answers by doing research for a script about the Kurdish filmmaker from Turkey. Güney was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. Mainly for political reasons but also for murdering a judge. He started making movies from jail. His most famous film YOL won the Palm d'Or in 1982. Tabak visits different countries where he meets with Güney's family, his actors, prestigious filmmakers as Michael Haneke or Costa Gavras, former inmates and people on the streets for whom Güney is still a hero. But the deeper Hüseyin digs, the more the legendary ugly king appears human and vulnerable.