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The Guardian (Die Wächterin)

Nominated for

Best Documentary

Directed by

Martina Priessner

88' • Germany • 2020


Kurdish, Turkish

For 18 years, the Syrian Orthodox nun Dayrayto lives on the grounds of a church in Zaz, a dilapidated and abandoned Assyrian village in southeastern Turkey. Together with the monk Abuna she cared for the church for fourteen years. Ever since the monk died four years ago Dayrayto lives alone with her two dogs, a cow, chicken, and three cats. She is vulnerable to multiple threats. Her presence in the region is a thorn in the side of many local actors. There has always been hostili- ties from the Muslim side and little support from her own community. Lately, the situation is getting worse and Dayrayto fears for her dog’s life, which she believes has been deliberately poisoned. The camera follows Dayrayto through her everyday life and observes her struggle for survival, her worries and hardships as fear and loneliness are her constant companions. An yet, Dayrayto is a courageous and fearless woman - she promised Abuna to never leave this holy place and to protect the church, no matter what.

Director's Bio: Martina Priessner is a documentary lmmaker and author based in Berlin. She obtained her degree in Social Sciences at the Humboldt University of Berlin. For the past several years, her interests have fo- cused on German-Turkish migration. Priessner completed her rst full-length documentary in 2010 entitled BASED DOWN SOUTH, which was nominated for the Grimme Award. While she was living in Istan- bul from 2012 to 2017 she documented the summer 2013 known as the Gezi Protests through the found footage lm EVERYDAY I’M CAPULING. In 2016 Priessner nished the documentary 650 WORDS which deals with migration and language. Priessner has been the re- cipient of scholarships from Nipkow, Defa, Kulturakademie Tarabya and Mercator-IPC. Her latest work THE GUARDIAN is a documentary about an Assyrian nun in Southeast Turkey.

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