Cengiz Akaygün’s short film Aysha begins with a small girl, Aysha (Jiyan Akaygün), in a dusty courtyard wearing a full-body veil, firing pebbles with a slingshot toward a stone wall. She’s attempting to bullseye what appears to be a bloodstain that runs from a single splash point down to the ground.
Two other females come into the yard, also covered from head to toe, and the taller (presumably older) figure begins walking the children through a test of Quran verses and religious sayings. Aysha is struggling with identity, so she takes a stand, having none of the lessons. Her defiance leads Aysha to remove the head covering, revealing a most important secret.
“…leads Aysha to remove the head covering, revealing a most important secret.”
Director-writer Cengiz Akaygün (who was born in Germany to a Kurdish family) uses his twelve minutes to great effect, setting the location and tone instantly and allowing the audience to consider which repressive country is being represented. It’s a place where women and girls must wear traditional garments for fear of arrest or worse.
There are points in the film where it becomes clear how deeply the toxic masculinity and overbearing patriarchy have permeated this culture, even among these three figures. Aysha is particularly timely as Iran is erupting in protest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for a minor infraction of the hair-covering rules of Sharia.
For more information about Aysha, visit the Free Money Films website.
"…Akaygün uses his twelve minutes to great effect..."