United States Agency for Global Media

Last Dance of Kocho

The Last Dance of Kocho is a compelling short film recounting the harrowing experience of ethnic Yazidi families who were attacked by Islamic State militants, leaving scores dead or kidnapped, and families torn apart. The film is unique in that captures the pain and stories of the girls and families through watercolors painted by VOA Kurdish journalist Lukman Ahmad.

The story begins at a wedding in the Iraqi village of Kocho, a few months before Islamic State arrived. It was one of the village’s last celebrations before IS militants slaughtered the men and older women, and kidnapped hundreds of girls. Through his paintings, Ahmad tells the stories of these young women and girls who were beaten, raped, and sold as sex slaves. The result is a different kind of storytelling that not only informs the audience but also touches their hearts and connects them with the victims’ ongoing pain.

Video of news stories depicting the killing of innocent civilians, particularly children and women, can be traumatizing to viewers. Utilizing the artistic medium of watercolors communicates the story in a way that extends the reach to a wider audience demographic.

The moving film garnered 243,000 views on VOA English’s Facebook page, with more than 5,400 reactions, comments & shares. It was also adapted into multiple languages within the South and Central Asia division for broadcasting.

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Project team

Lukman Ahmad, Journalist, Illustrator, and Painter

Amish Srivastava, Writer and Director

Paul Alexander, Narrator