Assyrian director Frank Gilbert begins filming “Road to Urmi” about the Sayfo Genocide of 1915

Assyrian film director and screenwriter Frank Gilbert has finished filming the first scenes of his new drama film “Road to Urmi” in Agadir, Morocco. The film tells the dramatic story of a mother and her sick son during the genocide against the Syriacs (Assyrians-Arameans-Chaldeans), Armenians, and Greeks committed by the Ottoman Turks and Kurds between 1914-1917, a black page in human history in which more than one and a half million people were brutally and premeditatedly slaughtered, deported, and starved.

In search of a cure for her son Emanuel’s skin disease, the Assyrian woman Mary leaves her village in the mountains of Hakkari during World War I, and meets Fatma, a Moroccan nurse in the city of Nineveh who helps her without any consideration. Once back in their village in Hakkari, Mary and Emanuel are arrested by an Ottoman army battalion and are taken to the city of Diyarbakir. Nurse Fatma is also transferred to Diyarbakir. There they meet again, and Fatma then decides to help Mary and her son escape to a safe place but is arrested in turn. In parallel, during their escape, Mary meets a man who is ready to defend her and her son and with whom they form a family.

Director Frank Gilbert (Kerkheslokh (Kirkuk), 1981) explains about the film and his personal feelings about the past events; “What we recall in the film is a true story with a frightening emotional impact that too often the world seems not to remember. A dark page that someone, sooner or later, had to face on the screen, as people have forgotten the tragedy of my Assyrian people.”

His previous 2019 film “Journey of Eternity” tells the tragic story of three Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian human rights activists who were hanged in 1985 by the Iraqi Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein.

“Road to Urmi” is an international co-production between the US, Italy, and Saudi Arabia and stars actors Casper van Dien and Natalie Burn. Release is scheduled for 2024.