UK arthouse venue The Rio Cinema has launched a new distribution venture, acquiring UK rights to two films showing in the London Kurdish Film Festival - Handan Ipekci's Hejar and Jano Rosebiani's Jiyan.

The Rio Cinema bought Hejar from Menemsha Films and, jointly with the Kurdish Film Festival Organising Committee, Jiyan from Media Luna. Both films will be released in the UK in early 2003.

The Rio Cinema, in Dalston, East London, is also hosting the second London Kurdish Film Festival which will be held from Friday 15 to Thursday 28 November.

As well as a wide range of Kurdish films, there will also be discussions with filmmakers and workshops. Many of the films in the festival focus on the Halabja Massacre of 17 March 1988, when 5,000 Kurdish people died as a result of Saddam Hussein's chemical gas bombardment.

The festival is presented by the Kurdish Film Festival Organising Committee in conjunction with the Rio Cinema.

UK premieres include:

- Handan Ipekci's Hejar, the story of the friendship of an elderly judge and a young Kurdish girl; this controversial film was nominated to represent Turkey at the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category and then banned in Turkey

- Nino Jacusso's Escape To Paradise tells the story of a Kurdish family who claim asylum in Switzerland.

- Tirej is a short feature film scripted and filmed by Kurdish guerrillas and tells the story of two fighters who are encircled by the Turkish army.

- Tayfun Pirselimoglu's Innowhereland from Turkey tells the story of a mother's attempts to find her politically active son who has disappeared.

- Hiner Saleem's Long Live The Brides And The Liberation Of Kurdistan, a comedy set amidst the 100,000-strong Kurdish community in Paris.

- Elizabeth Rygard's House Of Hearts from Denmark is a drama of separation seen through the eyes of a seven-year-old boy, Osman, whose parents leave Turkey to work in Europe.

- Another film about the Halabja massacre, Ravin Asaf's Yellow Days, from Germany portrays the Kurdish people's optimistic outlook on life.

- Roland Suso Richter's A Handful Of Grass from Germany portrays the Kurdish exile experience through the eyes of a child.

- Ibrahim Selman's A Silent Traveller, conceived in Kurdistan, written in Holland and filmed in Greece, tells the story of divided loyalties in a Kurdish village.

- Kadir Sozen's Winterflower tells the story of a deported immigrant's struggle to sneak back into Germany to be re-united with his wife and son.