Universal themes of love, support and teamwork in Soran Mardookhi’s Turbulence

Camillia Mahal as Gina in a scene from Turbulence | Photo by Soran Mardookhi

Camillia Mahal as Gina in a scene from Turbulence | Photo by Soran Mardookhi

Turbulence, a movie about the love between father and daughter, examines the deeper psychological element of the yearning for acceptance and validation at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. Actors Kamal Yamolky, Camillia Mahal and director Soran Mardookhi want to break from stereotypical expectations by studying the relationships we have with others and the impact our decisions have on those around us.

Iraqi-born Yamolky, 82, who works as an interpreter and a translator says he was offered the lead role by Soran Mardookhi, who he first met during one of his sessions working with newcomers from the Middle East. Yamolky, like his character Sherzad is a trained electrical engineer, moved to Canada in 1995 and says he has been happy with his newfound home ever since.

“I love this country so much,” he says. One of Yamolky`s goals is to help newcomers make a positive contribution to Canadian society –
and by accepting a role in Turbulence, he says he is helping others achieve their dreams.

A tight trio

Mardookhi, 35, was born in Iran and immigrated to Vancouver in 2010. It took the director roughly two years to pen the script. From the beginning, he had Yamolky in mind for the role of the father. Finding the right person for the female lead proved harder. Many women auditioned for the role of Gina.

Turbulence tells the story of a father-daughter relationship. Sherzad, from Kurdistan, and his daughter, Gina, are both trying to fit into mainstream society, while offering support to one another. Gina is struggling with her troubled past, while Sherzad is trying his best to make a home in his new country.

“I didn’t say nice things to her, like I said to the others on set – I wanted her to stay in character – and I think it worked. She was the right choice,” says Mardookhi.

Camillia Mahal, 34, a Vancouver-born actress of East Indian descent, says she found the role of Gina like no other.

“Gina’s a raw independent woman…she’s had so many experiences. It’s not a mainstream role; it’s a very specific role [and yet] Soran was very in tuned and he understood me,” says Mahal, who has a number of TV, film and theatre credits to her name.

In response to Mardookhi’s directing approach, Mahal says, “He’s so intense, so dynamic. I was working 12–18 hours a day, 2 months…sometimes in soaking … shoes while the weather was bad.”

Kamal Yamolky as Sherzad in a scene from Turbulence. | Photo by Saron Mardookhi

Kamal Yamolky as Sherzad in a scene from Turbulence. | Photo by Saron Mardookhi

The politics of humanity

Although Mardookhi says he would like the audience to see “a different side to [the stereotypical] Middle Eastern man,” Turbulence isn’t a movie about the Middle East or politics.

“It’s the story about a father and daughter, and how much the father loves his daughter and wants to help her,” says Mardookhi.

Mardookhi says he enjoys the freedom of no censorship in Canada, but it has been harder to make movies here. Compared to his native country, where he has over 10 years of experience in the film business and plenty of contacts, Mardookhi says it can be a challenge to get the appropriate funding and people together.

“This movie is made with [almost] no budget, but so many hearts were in it,” says Mardookhi, who felt welcomed by the Kurdish community here in Vancouver.

Cast and crew members also took notice of those willing to help.

““I’ve never seen such a community (as the Kurdish) that opened their doors [to us] …food, location, drivers. Everyone who pulled together was wonderful,” says Mahal.

As for Yamolky while he began to feel more comfortable and grew to appreciate all the hard work involved with making a movie, Turbulence is his first and probably last film.

“I don’t want to do it again!” says Yamolky with a laugh.

Turbulence is in English and
Kurdish with English subtitles.
For further information, visit
www.turbulencethemovie.com and www.viff.org/festival/films/f13737-turbulence