The few people who have written about Zayne Akyol’s Rojek wrote about the juxtaposition between its interview scenes and what looks like coverage. That aforementioned criticism (positive) saw that juxtaposition as a display of consequence. Which yes, it’s a valid interpretation, there’s a lot of that in here. Another personal interpretation would be that, behind all the noise and the score, there’s a mournful tone underneath. One of the interviewees worked on oil and he could be one of the people in the next scene, transporting oil in trucks on Syria’s highways. Helping rebuild that country after its civil war. Of course, its interviewees can’t work on those trucks now because that was his job within Daesh or ISIS. That defunct state wreaked havoc in parts of Syria, especially ones where the Kurds now live. This documentary, then, interviews mid level people from that defunct state who reveal shocking things.
Akyol uses close up shots to interview her subjects, they’re uncomfortably close so viewers can’t get away from the things they have to say. And they have more to say outside of their fundamentalist beliefs. Yes, there was some semblance of infrastructure within Daesh that even Western countries helped build in one war or another. And that the only people facing the consequences for their actions are the low and mid level people within Daesh instead of the people higher up. These interviews show the gamut of the human experience. After all, all monsters are human, with varying degrees of awareness, complicity, delusion, remorse. One of the interviewees ask whether jailing him would reform him? A better question to ask is whether or not the world wants to reform him or punish him. Whether we allow him to live in a world of fires and rubble and more war.
Find out how to stream Rojek on Hot Docs’ online platform. The film will come out in theatres and other platforms in the fall.
- Release Date: 4/30/2022