Parent's plight when child joins Islamic State shown in Berlin film

Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:10pm EST
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By Sarah Mills

BERLIN (Reuters) - Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb hopes his new film "Road to Istanbul" will help raise awareness of what it's like for parents whose children leave to join Islamic State insurgents in Syria.

And to make it really hit home, Bouchareb, 62, said he wanted the family shown in his film, which is screening in the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival, to be from a non-Muslim background.

"I was very moved by the parents in Europe, the mothers, the fathers, who all of a sudden realized that their children have gone on journeys, whether toward Syria or Iraq," Bouchareb told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

"And that interested me, that human dimension of a father or a mother who is going to discover something that they could never have imagined."

Belgian actress Astrid Whettnall plays Elisabeth, a single mother living in the Belgian countryside with her 18-year-old daughter Elodie (Pauline Burlet).

Her life is turned upside down when Elodie fails to come home and Elisabeth discovers she has gone with her new boyfriend to join Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

"I didn't choose someone of Muslim origin and culture," Buchareb said. "I took someone who had nothing to do with that world -- nothing to do with the Arab world, nothing to do with that culture.

"And it's that which interested me, how a young, 18-year-old Belgian girl is going to move toward a conversion, to convert (to Islam), and go to Syria."   Continued...

Director Rachid Bouchareb poses during a photocall to promote the movie La Voie De L'Ennemi (Two Men In Town) at the 64th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 7, 2014.  REUTERS/Thomas Peter