Good Kurds, Bad Kurds

November 13, 2013

What was your response to this documentary?  What did you feel hit hardest in terms of both emotions and logic?  One point about documentaries is the filmmaker usually wants to influence our behavior or thinking.  What do you think Kevin McKiernan wants us to do or think in response to his film?



  1. This past summer I lived in Texas with my family and got job at a new restaurant opening up down the road from me. This restaurant was a Turkish restaurant and needless to say I learned allot about Turkish customs and made allot of Muslim friends. All of the people I met over the summer were very nice and it was one of the first times I had ever met and became close to Muslims. As different as they were, they were all so kind and nice to me. I became angry with people who judge the Muslim culture so harshly and are rude, judgmental and racist towards them. I talked to my friends from the restaurant and they told me repeatedly that “there are good Muslims and bad Muslims and people don’t know how to understand that. And that is why they left their country.” I never quite understood this until I saw this documentary.
    Honestly until I saw this film I had no idea what Kurdish people were and had no clue they had any relation to Muslim or Turkish culture. For the first time watching this film I saw “the other side of things” and saw what my friends over the summer were talking about. There ARE bad Muslims. I feel like because of my past summer this film had a really different effect on me. I was almost shocked to see Turkish people oppressing the Kurdish and all of the violence being used against them. At one point an American Kurdish woman started to cry and say how they were not even allowed to name their children Kurdish names or speak their language. I suddenly felt defensive for the Kurdish people instead of the Turkish people I am so used to defending. It is honestly amazing and dumb-founding at the same time how naive people can be and how little we really know about what is going on in this world. And i think that is exactly what the reporter of this film was trying to get across.
    I bet more then half the people in the auditorium (including myself) knew any of what the film was about before sitting down to watch it. Even the reporter at first before starting this documentary didn’t know about the Kurdish oppression going on. He actually found out about it while doing some other research and then came back to it because he felt it was important to get the word out about this huge issue going on. Just seeing how people were so oblivious to these problems was frustrating. When the reporter went around to random people asking what Kurdish was and they responded with “music, food, etc.” it really enforced how little us Americans know about what is going on in the world. Also to see his struggle with news stations to get them to take the story was appalling. News station after news station told him “its off of our radar” basically saying they don’t want this story because they feel like people wont care and it wont get their news station good ratings for that day.
    This film really was an eye opener in a number of ways. I just hope that people understand that not ALL Turkish people or Muslim people are bad like it was basically displayed in the film. Just like I’m sure not ALL Kurdish people are good and so weak and defenseless like they were coming across in the documentary. There is always two sides to every story and allot of time it is what side is shown to the public that formulates peoples opinions about cultures, which to me is very shallow and sad. But in the end that is what the documentary meant to me, there is always two sides to every story and basically you should never judge a book by its cover or what you hear from other people. People really need to take the time to form their own opinion about other races before jumping to conclusions.

  2. thought that Good Kurds Bad Kurds was a very interesting and emotional film, and it taught me a lot about a topic that I had never heard of before watching this. I think what hit hardest in terms of emotions was the lack of humanity that was shown to the Kurdish people, and the horrible treatment and punishment inflicted upon them by the Turkish government, with weapons that were provided to Turkey by the United States. I think what hits hardest in terms of logic is the fact that the gatekeepers in the United States tried their hardest to keep Americans unaware by turning a blind eye to the conflict between the Kurds and the Turks, since Turkey was an ally to the United States, and the United States was dealing weapons to Turkey, that they were using to wage war with people from their own country.
    This documentary not only influenced my thinking on this topic, but it totally introduced me to and informed me of this issue. I think that it’s sad that I’ve never heard of this issue prior to watching Good Kurds Bad Kurds, and it really serves to demonstrate the point made in the film about the United States trying not to shed too much light on this issue due to their grim role in it. Learning about the role, and lack of helpful action, that the United States played in this conflict, along with the fact that no one ever saw fit to inform me and my classmates of this issue in high school, makes me feel rather disappointed in those in charge of running this country. I think that Kevin McKiernan’s purpose in creating this documentary was to educate and inform the people of this country on this unjust issue, and by doing so possibly recruiting the support from American citizens to push forward and make a change towards helping the Kurds and stopping the United States from dealing weapons to Turkey when they’re using them on their own people. Although this documentary was created quite a few years ago, I think that it’s still very beneficial for Americans to watch this documentary today in order to inform them of an issue that they may have never heard of before, as well as the poor way in which our country handled the situation, by turning a blind eye to the inhumane destruction of a group of people in order to preserve a money-making, political agenda.

  3. I thought the film itself was very interesting and well put together. I really enjoyed it; it wasn’t anywhere near as boring as some documentaries can become. The material was brand new to me, as I knew nothing about the Kurds before I saw this film, and I think the film does a great job introducing the issue. I think that the hardest hitting emotional aspects were the stories about the family he interviewed, the stories about the children knowing which helicopters were dangerous and which ones were not, and the stories about the torture in Turkey. It was terrifying to watch as the two brothers were put on trial for fake names; the risk of them being deported was very real and palpable in the film. Seeing how those people were simply moved from place to place without a secure place to call home and practice their culture was horrifying to me. The hardest logical facts were when the government members clearly avoided answering Mr. McKiernan’s questions. It always bothers me when our government refuses to admit that they could possibly be wrong about something. The fact that they blatantly avoided a question or gave an obvious political answer infuriates me because it means they know what they’re doing is wrong, and they don’t care. I feel like at many points there were similarities between how Turkey is treating the Kurds now and how Germany treated the Jewish population in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and the sheer knowledge that America is turning a blind eye makes me sick because it means our government is allowing this to happen again and helping it along! I think that one thing this documentary really drove home for me is how the government seems to like painting pictures that fit their agenda. They defend the Kurds in Iraq to make the American public hate the Iraqi leaders, but then they turn against the Kurds in Turkey because their alliance with Turkey is more important that protecting innocent lives. I think that Mr. McKiernan was trying to awaken the public to the issue and the double standard that the government has chosen to perpetrate and to stir the public into action. He wants us to help in the fight to get the Kurds a safe place to live and be. Mr. McKiernan did not want the Good Kurds Bad Kurds argument to continue to live in silence because he believes that every human life is worth protecting.

  4. Being truthfully honest, I wasn’t informed hardly at all on the saddening situation of the Kurdish people. I was aware of the genocides in the middle east and some oppressions on certain people, but I never quite knew exactly who they were. What really grabbed my attention was Kani and his family, seeing these innocent men, women, children, and elderly trying to survive without fear in America as well as seeing the pictures of the murdered Kurdish people. It made the situation so real, to think these people lost their land, and everyone denies them their own rights. Seeing Kani smiling as he tries to do good with his life really made me want to help him as well as the rest of the Kurds in anyway that I could.
    It’s such a shame that this is issue is covered so little, because we had the same thing happen in America as the Europeans discovered the land, and started developing the colonies and eventually a nation. We terrorized and slaughter so many natives, and this Kurd problem is actually closer that we think having the same thing happen right on the very ground us American’s stand on and take for granted.
    I think that Kevin McKierman really wants us to pay attention to the news and media. If there is anything that we can do to make this a more recognizable issue, then we should take action. I think he really wants to create parallels between the Kurds and the Native American people here in the USA, which as it turns out his next project focuses on the Native Americans.

  5. I felt that the film was interesting, but there seemed to be a bit of self-righteousness that came from the film maker. In particular, the fact that he superimposed his own image over that of an American flag at the end kind of felt a little bit egotistical, and I felt that it drove attention away from the issue at hand. However, I do believe that he made some strong points against an issue that I wasn’t particularly aware of. A few images and issues in the film stuck out to me, and struck a note, but they were few and far in between. While I think this issue should be focused on more, I don’t think that this documentary did enough to push the points forward. I also feel that the film became outdated…10 days after it’s release. At the end of the film, in the text-based epilogue, the last date mentioned was September 1st, 2001, of course 10 days later would be 9/11, which of course had a major impact on the course of history of these people. A surge of xenophobia against pretty much anyone from the middle east hit after this, and it would have been interesting to delve into those issues. Sadly, I think that it was the course of history that really caused this film to be lost on me. Impossibly bad timing of it’s release, and by the time all the 9/11 hysteria had ended a number of the details of the film had gone by the wayside. It’s unfortunate that the film only had those 10 days to actually be relevant, maybe it could have been more affective otherwise. Perhaps a sequel or another epilogue these 12 years later could be added to the end to make it relevant again.

  6. From watching this documentary it has opened my eyes to what is happening to the Kurds. I knew that there was issues in Iraq and other areas but I never knew that this was occurring to the Kurds. I feel as though the documentary could have touched base more with who the Kurds are and gone more in depth to the situation and why it was so bad. The points to the film that hit the hardest where the points where there was dead bodies and witnessing the fighting going on.
    I feel that the film maker wants us to be aware of the situation that is happening to the Kurds. He wants us to act out against the cruelty of the situation and help the Kurd’s voices to be heard.

  7. I was extremely surprised when I watched this. The fact that we allowed this to happen is ridiculous in one sense and almost like a necessary evil in another. I say its necessary because of the huge alliance that they really are in terms of position adjacent to some of the biggest opposition we have in Iraq and Iran. While the alliance is hugely beneficial to us we still should not have been witnesses to this and could have taken a more proactive stance against such treatment.
    I think what hit the hardest was two-fold. First how aggressive the Turkish government was in eradicating these people and the lengths they went to attempt to do so. And secondly was the strong resistance that the PKK provided and the tenacity of them to attempt to gain a homeland.
    I believe that McKiernan wants to evoke thought about the condition of the race of people that is in contention for not only a homeland but for survival.

  8. I felt that emotionally the film was not holding any back,the good Kurds were strong about they believed in. I was shocked to see the children and the adults receive so many torturing things done to them.I think the director wants us to know what is happening in our world. During the discussion he provided us with information about the family, and how Americans are effected by the war.The good Kurds wanted their justice. The bad Kurds wanted separation, and to keep killing them off. The war gave the good kurds a way to fight back, and they were making sure their voices were heard through protesting.

  9. I thought “Good Kurds, Bad Kurds” was an interesting documentary about this war and abuse that is taking place that many people are unaware of. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film to me was how news stations were presented with some of the footage and information and believed it wasn’t necessary to broadcast it to the people. It’s interesting to see how much politics play a part in the news we are shown and thinks are turned away because they don’t want to anger anyone. This would probably also explain why I was so unaware of this tremendous amount of corruption and injustice that is taking place in these countries. It’s amazing to me that with all that was taking place with this situation, that so few people were aware of it in this country. In terms of logic, I thought the information presented in regards to whether or not the men would be deported back to Turkey was a good appeal to the logic of the justice system. I think with this documentary, Kevin McKiernan is just trying to bring peoples’ attention to this issue that is going on that most are not aware of. I think in a way he is also trying to expose some of the flaws in our countries political system and even the media.

  10. One of the things I enjoyed about the documentary “Good Kurds, Bad Kurds” was how he brought this story to life. Before viewing this film I didn’t have the slightest idea to what a Kurd was. After watching what was going on at the time it gave me a better understanding of what was truly going on during that time and people who just wanted to escape that. One of the things that hit hardest to me was all the senseless fighting that was going on and how their government was ran, seeing innocent people being destroyed by a system is one of the hardest things to watch.
    One of the things I took away about how the director wants us to feel about the documentary is how there are these crimes happening all over the world and nothing is being done to stop it. Watching this really showed me the terror that was out there and other sorts of evil that can be exposed through a brave effort of one man. If not for McKiernan I would never have known what exactly went on, let along other people.

  11. I really enjoyed this documentary. Pretty much everything in this film was new information to me. I enjoyed learning about something I had no knowledge of before. The imagery and use of story telling in the film really appealed to emotion for the audience. I was unaware that Kurds were relatively similar to the Aborigine’s of Australia in that they are most likely the first people of that land. I was shocked by the discrimination and unjust treatment of their people, especially on the part of the United States. I was also shocked to find out what our weapons sales to other countries does on a global scale. The argument about the strategic location Turkey has in the middle east which is why the United States basically turns the other cheek was very convincing. I think that the filmmaker is obviously trying to bring this subject into the light because a lot of Americans like myself are unaware of the subject. There is basically a war going on which never even hits our media. Other than the obvious point, I think the filmmaker wants the audience to think critically about what global relations and effects the United States has on the world, and that everything has a deeper story to it.

  12. I was surprized at how hard it was to get the information out to the public as it was not a “hot” topic. It was important as another violation of human rights because of the culture and not nessarly religon. Again it shows that that america looks to be on a band wagon of sorts,we should have had Brad Pit there and popularize the situation. I think there is always a way to sort a situation out if all people work together, bombing homes is not a solution.We are friends with Turks as it is policaly convient, I seem to remember some sort of genocide against Arminians in the past..Does this speeck to who they are really? Also what does this say about us and our govenment policies. I liked the way Saddem Husain was worked in the time line and his role in the area. He is a good guy, then a bad guy, to be killed.. The truth is very complicated except for the Kurds, the victims of persection because of their culture and heritage.

  13. Before seeing the documentary, I did not know anything about the Kurds and I thought that this documentary proved be educational and eye opening. In terms of logic, I did not think the documentary went into much detail about how the origin of the initial conflict with the Kurdish people started. In other words, how the Kurdish people received their stigma. I thought he film talked a lot about how the Kurdish people were being oppressed but I thought it would have helped to give a little more history about the subject. Instead, the film used a lot of emotion to get points across. One scene that stuck out to me what the scene when the old man is talking about how children tell him which helicopters are which when they fly over since the old man cannot see as well. The fact that children are able to identify the ‘good’ helicopters from the ‘bad’ helicopters demonstrates that attacks are common. It shoes that there is a lot of fear and even the kids have to learn how to deal with it, which is not something a child should be concerned about. I also thought that the family in the documentary were good people to represent the Kurdish people. Each member of the family was interesting and had their own story to tell. I think the director wanted to help the Kurdish people get their story out. I also think he wanted to show that there are more stories, like the Kurd’s story, that our media and government might be hiding and that we cannot only rely on our US media to get the news. I think McKieran realized that this was an issue that not a lot of people knew about and he took the opportunity to teach.

  14. This film was very informative on a subject about which I knew very little. I think McKiernan did a good job of portraying all aspects about the Kurds and issues they are facing. Not only did we get a personal look at the lives of the Kurds who are lobbying in America, we also got a sense of the hostility toward the Kurds in Turkey and other countries.
    One of the things McKiernan touches on that I think is important is the fact that our country will pick and choose what atrocities we will help stop. Our policy makers turn a blind eye to all of the horrible things the Turkish government is doing to Kurds, but help stop the killing of Kurds in Iraq. The government tries to justify this stance from a foreign policy perspective, but it is outrageous from a humanitarian perspective. I think McKiernan’s objective other than to educate people about the atrocities, was to shine a light through the facade of humanitarianism of our government. The government claims that our intentions are to help stop the atrocities, but it is clear that what we do is based on what would be most advantageous in terms of foreign policy.
    If I had to point out one criticism of this documentary, it would be McKiernan’s style of narration. It came off to me as a news reporter doing a feature for a local news station. It’s just a stylistic thing that I didn’t really like, but it didn’t necessarily take away from the film. It’s probably due to the time when the film was made.

  15. good kurds bad kurds, I think as a international student for me I understood the situation of the people and what they are going through. I understand how it was hard for the journalist it is to get the story out there on the news and get people around the world to realize that this is happening to the kurd people. That not all kurd are bad, looking into the lives of the people that was affected by the war was hard for me.
    I feel very very sad to look at the situation that is happening for the people of kurd, I see how the situation play out. Where the U.S.A. took advantage of the situation and only support those country it need resources from or fighting against. The US became a greedy old man in the corner of the situation, watching the weak and taking side of the evil or unjust. Selling weapons and destroying the innocent in the name of politics and greed.
    i didn’t feel like the filmmaker want to influence our thinking, expect that he want to show us what it is like as an american viewer to understand I think Kevin want us to spread the world and realize there is problem out there like this, injustice, that we all cannot be blind to it. to support the right of hummanity is that wrong, even when mean ricking going against your neighbor.

  16. I believe that the filmmaker’s goal in this documentary was to convince the audience that the US was in the wrong and needed to be held responsible for its role in the conflicts of the Kurdish nation. I think this was done successfully with the material presented; by choosing startling details and showing extreme poverty as well as the magnitude of discrimination levied against the Kurdish people, Kevin was able to show the audience that a large problem was occurring while US citizens sat unaware. Had he chosen different images or discussed discrimination without explaining details — Kurdish parents may not name their children as they choose, for example — these issues would not have held their own weight, and viewers would not have been affected in the same way. In this way, I think that making a documentary is much like writing a research paper. The author or filmmaker must carefully select which information will be included in his or her argument, and the selection process determines the most effective points to be presented.

  17. The main question that arrose in my mind when watching this film would have to be how often does the government hide things like this from their citizens just because the we are doing some sort of business with the country the atrocities are happening in. The directors main goal with this film to me to was to exploit the fact that our government was ignorning the Kurds’ situation solely because of ties we have witht the Turkish government. Robert Mckiernon gave us a good look into the hostile environment that exists in Turkey and parts of Iraq with the Kurds fighting for their rights. What also played into my emotions when watching the film was the stand point of a Kurd in the US lobbying for their help. Prior to seeing this movie I would definitely not have been able to tell you what the problem the Kurds are facing. After seeing that film I cannot believe we are allies with a country that will kill its own
    people because they are representing a nation that has been cast out of centuries. The population of Kurds is humongous and they still do not have their own place to call “home”.
    The worst part of the whole story was when McKiernon brings his film back to the US and it is brushed aside by the media because the film would be to schocking for the US and the government would not want the citizens finding out about the type of behavior our government is supporting. Seeing the Kurds in America struggling to get their message out and being attacked by the judicial system was probably the most emotionally striking for me because we are the land of the free but these Kurds who are only trying to better the world are being chastized.

  18. This documentary really opened my eyes to global issues. I had no idea who the Kurds were or where they were from before this film. And I think something the documentary really touches on is the reason we DON’T know anything about the Kurds: our government doesn’t really care. It’s sad and horrifying to know that such an issue, one that we help by selling american built machinery to, I might add, wont be covered by the news because it wasn’t a good enough story.
    I think for me what hid hardest was the fact that these people were being discriminated for virtually no reason. All they wanted was political freedom and human rights. thats ALL. I dont understand this fight for land. What is so wrong with giving a bit of land to these people? Turkey is a huge country. These people are being killed because of their race. That’s not right.
    I think Kevin wants us to be more aware. He wants us to know so we can start making a difference in the world. Knowledge is power..but its what we do what that knowledge that determines how powerful it can be.

  19. I didn’t know about any of the information presented in this documentray prior to watching it, so naturally my response was surprise, the state of that area and those people is extremely bleak. What hit the hardest was that theses Kurds are the same but are being put against one another to bennefit others. And there is a fight here in America for the people in the middle of it, but the people here fighting are in danger of being expidited back and killed. i feel that the filmaker wants us to join the fight for civil freedom for these people who suffer at the hands of greedy power hungry tyrants. The filmaker seeks to inform us of whats going on because this is an issue that if not seen by most Americans and is “hidden” by our government.

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