23 KILOMETRES. A new Documentary by Canadian-Armenian Filmmaker Noura Kevorkian
23 KILOMETRES. A new Documentary by Canadian-Armenian Filmmaker Noura Kevorkian –
On the Damascus Road in Lebanon’s beautiful Bekaa Valley, an aging man with late-stage Parkinson’s takes one last journey.
In his last known interview before he lost his ability to speak, Barkev Kevorkian spoke of his theories on cosmology. Though a machinist by trade in his troubled native Lebanon, Barkev was fascinated by the universe. He would regale any who listened with stories about leaving Earth and its violence behind and travelling to the outer reaches of space.
But Parkinson’s disease took away all that he loved. Barkev’s stuttering got so bad he simply gave up trying to speak, and took to writing his thoughts in a journal instead. The neurological disease, notorious for its tremors and reduced mobility, also has one lesser-known symptom: it haunts it victims both day and night with vivid hallucinations.
In this bold essay film, director Noura Kevorkian brings her father’s written thoughts to life with stunning beauty, offering a rare and precious glimpse behind the veneer of aging and disease.
SYNOPSIS – 2
What if your body became a prison?
Barkev Kevorkian has lived through a lot. The son of Armenian genocide survivors, Barkev spent his life overcoming adversity in both Syria and Lebanon.
Though a machinist by trade in his troubled native Lebanon, Barkev was fascinated by the universe. He fantasized about leaving Earth and its wars far behind and travelling to the outer reaches of space.
During the Lebanese Civil War, Barkev operated a foundry in the Bekaa Valley, building machines and fixing parts for local factories. Once a week he would drive 23KM down the Damascus Road to the nearest town of Zahle. Along the way he would stop – at a favourite bakery, a nut roastery, the local dairy farm – wherever necessity or opportunity took him.
Thirty years have passed and Barkev is now afflicted with late-stage Parkinson’s – a disease that severely limits his ability to do things for himself and interact with others. Barkev’s world has narrowed so much that he feels isolated and trapped within his own body. He rarely leaves the confines of his home and finds it a huge chore merely to string a simple sentence together. So he stopped speaking. Longing to communicate his big ideas about the universe and our place in it, Barkev tries to write in his journal as often as he can, but recently the Parkinson’s tremors are starting to cause the words to sprawl illegibly across the page. To make matters worse, both the disease and the medicine he takes to fight it cause startlingly vivid hallucinations.
Feeling daily more trapped within himself and losing control, Barkev attempts to steer the direction of his dreams and take one last trip back down the old Damascus Road – a timeless trip where both past and present meet at the edge of our galaxy.
23Kilometres is a trippy powerful essay film told through the eyes, actions and words of a deeply soulful man afflicted with a crippling disease.
Canadian Armenian filmmaker Noura Kevorkian made her filmmaking debut with her first short documentary entitled VEILS UNCOVERED (Official Competition Amsterdam IDFA, Golden Sheaf Yorkton Film Festival) about lingerie and the veiled women of Damascus.
Noura’s feature debut ANJAR: FLOWERS, GOATS AND HEROES, is the historical POV documentary about a young girl growing up during the Lebanese Civil War who discovers that all the elders of her village are genocide survivors from World War I.
Noura’s short film VEILS UNCOVERED along with images from the book she co-authored The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie were exhibited in the renowned Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Noura’s second feature film, 23 KILOMETRES (Official Competition Karlovy Vary IFF, Official Selection Muhr Award Dubai Internatioal Film festival) is a Canada/Lebanon/UAE production.
In production is Noura’s next feature documentary entitled BATATA (winner Doha Film Institute Grant and Dubai Film Festival’s Best Pitch Award), about a family of Syrian migrant workers – now refugees of war – who work in the potato fields of Lebanon. Noura divides her time living between Beirut and Toronto.