Like many other men of the generation before him, Sami Mermer left his Kurdish homeland at a young age. As an established filmmaker, he returns to the Anatolian village of his childhood, Xalko, where his female relatives are now securing their livelihood, being the only ones who stayed behind.

Xalko shifts the perspective in the direction of the people, who stayed behind and considers migration in the context of work even further:

What happens to those left behind in their hometowns? How do relationships change under the condition of extreme distance? How does the concept of home change for those who in old age are faced with the question of their return?

Xalko is a small Kurdish village in Turkey, where – after the young men have left for Europe and the US – only a few women and older men maintain subsistence cattle breeding. In this autobiographical documentary, Sami Mermer returns to his birthplace – and documents the busy everyday life of his female relatives, who tell him with relentless openness, dark humor and deepest cynicism about their losses, visions of the future and disillusionment with their husbands abroad. 

Xalko is a film that gives room to silence and captures the everyday life and feelings of the few villagers in an intimate way without any showmanship.


Sami Mermer

Sami Mermer comes from the Kurdish part of Turkey and studied mathematics, environmental sciences and film studies there before migrating to Montreal and continuing his film studies. He subsequently worked on numerous fictional and non-fictional films. His first long documentary, The Box of Lanzo, highlighted the situation of homeless people in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This film work smoothed the professional and personal connection with the author and filmmaker Hind Benchekroun, who also lives in Montreal, which lasts until today. The result is her own production company (Turtle Productions) based in Casablanca and numerous co-productions – including Callshop Istanbul (2015) about the lives of refugees in Istanbul and the film Xalko, which has won awards at many festivals in Europe in recent months.


Hind Benchekroun

Hind Benchekroun is an author and filmmaker based in Montreal, Canada. Before working with Sami Mermer, she had already distinguished herself through various documentary film series such as Rebel Music Quebec (2002) or Racism in the workplace (2006). In her first short film La petite fille d’avant (2003), she travels back to her country of birth Morocco to talk to key people in her life. Her first documentary film, Turtles do not die of old age (2010), produced with Sami Mermer, won the first prize at the International Film Festival Tétouan in Morocco and delighted audiences at numerous festivals around the world.


DREHBUCH: Sami Mermer.
REGIE: Sami Mermer, Hind Benchekroun.
KAMERA: Sami Mermer.
SCHNITT: René Roberge.
SOUND EDITING: Martin Allard.
PRODUKTION: Sami Mermer, Hind Benchekroun – Les films de la tortue