Portrait photography has a way of humanizing even the most distant situations. And so with this goal in mind, this young photographer and filmmaker set out on a mission that would be completely self-funded and independent. His purpose was to determine if the Kurdish fighters were indeed fearless warrior men and women or if they were actually terrorists operating as opportunists in a bloody war.
Joseph’s first meeting is with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Makhmour. Heavily armed men and women in traditional Kurdish outfits patrol the countryside. This place was the site of recent violent clashes between Islamic state militants and Kurdish forces. The official military gets a lot of attention in the mainstream press, but guerilla groups play extremely important roles in battles against the Islamic state. They are seen as local heroes.
Even though the United States sees the PKK as a terrorist group, in Makhmour they’re supported by coalition air strikes. The members of this group are not only kind, but also hospitable. Their warm and bubbly nature can be deceiving at times.
They follow the ideology of their leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who wrote a manifesto titled The National Road to the Kurdish Revolution. The PKK willingly leave their families and material possessions to live a life of complete dedication to the Kurdish resistance. The only entertainment at the first camp is a television set and a bookshelf; warriors should also be well-read intellectuals.