ANQA is an intimate portrait of three women who decide to stand up and speak out, who declare that they exist despite the threat of death. It is an exploration of a woman’s inner life and in its most extreme, of the painful traces memory carries when the outer world is at an impasse.  Although the film places emphasis on the inner conflicts of the women, the socio-political climate of the era they live in is also tangible. The narration subtly ties together the crisis of thought in confrontation with misogyny and systemic, patriarchal violence, revealing the inextricability of political and social life from the life of the individual.
Taking the daily lives of its characters in isolation as a starting point, the film revolves around the themes of life, death, and the trauma that connects them. It disguises the details of the brutal crimes these women have experienced, and instead rather focuses on their present lives in all its complexity and confusion, as they fight for survival and to reclaim their existence. The film’s position is one that consciously chooses to not reproduce violence, thus reconstructing existing narratives in an aspiration of cinematic justice.

ANQA creates a fragile space for the spectator to immediately dive deep into the inner landscapes of these three women. It makes possible an encounter with another person through exposure to their wounds, as witnesses to their present, frighteningly close struggle between life and death. For this reason, trauma operates not only as the repository for one’s personal wounds, but enables a means of sharing, a way to communicate that history with another. (Helin Çelik)

A small gas stove ignites and provides warmth. In Helin Çelik’s ANQA, a history of violence, biographies of women, and the depiction of a personal “safe zone” are closely interwoven. The “safe zone” are apartment spaces in which three women from the Middle East, who have experienced abuse and domestic violence and who have radically rebelled against it, have finally found quietness. This is a quietness, however, marred by traumatic memories. The protagonists sketchily describe impressions of their unfortunate experiences and the associated feeling of hopelessness that sometimes still haunts them at night. But their situations also caused them to take actions that excluded them from their social communities. They were called “crazy” and “the remains of a woman”. In the narrative’s being limited to fragments, their lives, their survival, becomes palpable and understood as hard-won – their stories need not be reproduced in specific detail.  

At the same time, Çelik describes a space from which they can escape the “coldness” that still “afflicted a woman under the sun”, this “underground feeling”. Raquel Fernández Núñez's camera gets close to the faces, but also captures physical affections, details of hands or feet touching each other. The interiors are continually shown in warm colors; the wall hangings and curtains, which in one scene are first drawn across a kitchen front, counteract the recapitulation of the past. The fabrics are not smoothed out, however – creases and hard cut edges remain. There are surreal disturbing moments: ANQA does not describe a false sense of security, but creates a poetic associative space in which the “care” activities of the women still bear witness to the ambivalence they feel towards life. (Dominik Kamalzadeh)

Orig. Title
Austria, Spain
91 min
Helin Çelik
Orig. Language
English, german, spanish
ANQA_01 (Image)
ANQA_02 (Image)
ANQA_03 (Image)
Helin Çelik
Raquel Fernández Núñez AEC
Nadim Husni, Victor Jann Nasri Bahdousheh
Maitane Carballo Alonso, Lara Zakhour
Sara Fattahi
Sound Design
Nicolás Tsabertidis
Kepler Mission Films S.L.
Executive Producer
Helin Çelik, Rebeca Sánchez López
Supported by
Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, öffentlicher Dienst und Sport / Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport, Zukunftsfonds Republik Österreich, Generalitat de Catalunya Departament de Cultura, Institut Catalá de les Empreses Culturals, Stadt Wien
Available Formats
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
5.1 surround
Color Format
Festivals (Selection)
Sibiu - Astra Documentary Film Festival
Oslo - Mirage - Film Festival for the Art of the Real
Skopje – Int’l Cinematographers’ FF Manaki Brothers
Istanbul International Film Festival
Berlin - Intern. Filmfestspiele Berlinale - Forum