Zaynê Akyol is an award-winning filmmaker of Kurdish origin who was born in Turkey and raised in Quebec. She studied at the Université du Québec à Montréal, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Communications, concentrating on film. In 2009, Akyol produced her first short documentary, Isminaz, which won the Jury Prize in the Radio-Canada International Roots competition. Akyol completed her degree by winning the René Malo Chair/National Film Board of Canada award for most promising documentary filmmaker. In 2010, she followed up with her medium-length documentary, Iki Bulut Arasinda (Under Two Skies), which won the Jury and People’s Choice awards at the Festival Vidéastes Recherché(e)s, as well as the Vox award at the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois festival before touring the international festival circuit. Exile, immigration and expectation are at the heart of Akyol’s first film essays, which alternate between Quebec and Turkey.
Balancing practice with theory, Akyol is currently completing her master’s degree in Communications, concentrating on “film and moving images.” Her research focuses on creative and relational issues in documentary film, which she frequently encounters in her own filmmaking efforts. As part of her research, Akyol is producing a memoir entitled Shared Relation and Creation in Documentary Filmmaking. In 2012, Akyol devoted herself to writing her first feature documentary, Land of the Roses: My Name Is Gülistan, whose script-in-progress was selected from among 4,400 projects for the Doc Station (Berlinale Talents) at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film is now being released as Gulîstan, Land of Roses. With this highly personal look at the daily lives of women fighting in the ranks of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) against ISIS, Akyol addresses some of the political issues she occasionally lectures on. Akyol says this allows her to not only stay connected to her Kurdish roots but to also contemplate the state of the world at a time of increasingly global conflicts. The film is a co-production between Canada and Germany.