3/29/2006 5:37:36 PM
ASSYRISKA: A National Team Without A Nation

Los Angeles (March 28, 2006) – The 6th Annual International Beverly Hills Film Festival (BHFF) ( presents the 2006 line-up of 40 competition films, screening from April 5 – 9, at the Clarity Theater, 100 North Crescent Drive, Beverly Hills, California 90210. The North American Premiere of the documentary film ASSYRISKA: A NATIONAL TEAM WITHOUT A NATION from directors NURI KINO and ERIK SANDBERG will take place on April 6th at 8:00 p.m. and April 8th at 3:45 p.m. The festival also features Guild sponsored panel discussions and networking events, culminating in the Awards Night Gala held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, 9641 Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills 90210, on April 9th, 2006.

Assyriska: A National Team Without A Nation is the story of an unassuming small town soccer team, claiming the heritage of the ancient Assyrian Empire and speaking Aramaic, the language of Christ. This immigrant soccer club from the remote city of Södertälje, Sweden, has become a force to reckon with as it fights its own personal and political battles to reach international stardom when against all odds as the first ever immigrant team in Europe, it rises to the National Premiere League. Not only Sweden roots for Assyriska, but the team gains the attention of its nation living in diaspora from Syria, US, Europe, Russia and burning Iraq, to monks at a monastery in Southeast Turkey.

A colorful mosaic, with players from all over the world, Assyriska’s team motto is to win! But the Assyrian players on the team also see themselves as Assyrian warriors much like today’s Assyrian militia on the battlefields in Iraq. “They have the ball, we have the guns. We are soldiers in the same battle,” says a militia in Baghdad while watching Assyriska on television.

From its humble beginnings, Assyriska faced a myriad of hardships, prejudices and political problems. Having recognized that Assyriska was the voice of Assyrians and thus a direct threat to Iraq, the Assyrian homeland, Saddam Hussein infiltrated the team up until his fall.

For one year shooting in seven countries, a total of four film teams, three from Sweden and one from Iraq captured stories of the team, the supporters from Södertälje returning to their homeland in Southeast Turkey in an attempt to reclaim their now occupied territories, the kidnapping of an Assyrian politician in Iraq, and the story of Sait Yildiz who fights everyday to fulfill the promises he made to his uncle who was shot in Turkey, to never give up the fight for his people, and many more stories.

In episode three competing as a finalist for the Golden Palm Award at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, a parallel drama unfolds between Yildiz’s returns to Turkey to attend a conference to seek recognition of the Assyrian genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire during WWI and the dramatic game between Assyriska and Halmstad occurring on the 90th anniversary of the Genocide. More than a game, the fight on the soccer field is also for the supporters of Assyriska worldwide and whether the team likes it or not, it is also a fight against ethnic cleansing in Iraq and a fight against xenophobia in the West.

This five-part documentary film originally aired on Sweden’s Public Service Network and received the following reviews:

“Best sports documentary ever.”

~Dagens Nyheter sport (Daily News, Sports Edition)

“At long last I have had the chance to understand Assyriska’s stardom…

Fantastic documentary…”

~SR, Swedish Radio International

“Nuri Kino has done it again. I was as hooked as I am to his radio reports.”

~Hujådå, Assyrian Magazine

“With films like this you don’t need primetime.”

~Dagens Nyheter, Daily News Cultural TV-Columnist

“Swedish documentary at its best.”

“International quality…”

“Assyriska and Assyrians are like a hidden pearl that have now come out of their shells.”

Svenska Dagbladet, Swedish Daily Paper

The festival kicks off with the World Premiere of Verso La Luna Con Fellini (Towards the Moon with Fellini) on April 5th, at the Writers Guild Theater.

Festival director Nino Simone says, “This is a rare competition festival due to the fact that we are located in the affluent and opulent city of Beverly Hills, yet, we cater to truly raw, hard-hitting and original independent films, providing them an opportunity to screen in the backyard of the entertainment industry.”

Jury members include Mark Amin, Lions Gate Films, chairman; Laura Lucio, Emmy Award-winning journalist; John Daly, producer (The Last Emperor, Platoon) and director (BHFF Golden Palm winner of 2005, The Aryan Couple); Arlene Donnelly Nelson, director (HBO’s Naked States) and cinematographer (A Mighty Wind), Lawrence Kubik, film producer; and Steven Paul, Crystal Sky, CEO and president.


Seminars with industry panelists include: What the Guilds Can Do for You with Kay Schaber, director of the WGA Independent Film Program and Paul Bales, director of SAGindie; Independent Film Financing & Distribution, presented by MindFusion Law Corporation; and How to Create Artful Movies on Budget: The Effects of New Technology on Cinematography presented by the American Society of Cinematographers, featuring Laszlo Kovacs, ASC, Nancy Schreiber, ASC, Allen Daviau, ASC and Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC.


The BHFF Jury, judges for the following categories: Golden Palm Award (best film in all categories); Best Feature; Best Documentary; Best Short Film; Best Director of Photography; Best Editor; and the Golden Palm Screenplay Competition Award. Audience Choice Awards include Best Feature; Best Documentary; Best Short Film; Best Director; Best Male Performance; Best Female Performance; Best Producer; Best Screenplay; and Best Animation.

About BHFF

The annual International Beverly Hills Film Festival was founded in 2001 by award-winning independent filmmaker Nino Simone. The event is dedicated to showcasing and promoting non-studio films to the entertainment industry. Designed to bridge the world of premiere independent cinema with the renowned community of Beverly Hills, the festival is an entertainment event with world-class screenings, networking events and seminars. Sponsors include LA Confidential magazine, Lancel, Stella Artois, Roberto Cavalli Vodka, Frida Kahlo Tequila, Faberge, The Mosaic Hotel, The Crescent Hotel, SAGindie and the American Society of Cinematographers.

Tickets are available online at or by calling the BHFF office at 310.779.1206. Prices range from $10.00 per screening to $250.00 for the Awards Gala. Festival passes are also available, ranging from a 1-Day Pass ($45.00) to a VIP Festival Pass ($500.00). All WGAw, SAG, ASC and ACE members receive a 15% discount on all screening and seminar tickets and passes.

Assyriska Film Media Contact:

Tanya Benjamin Management

Festival Media Contact:

Heather Burgett, 310.452.9133