Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran: the Kurdish motherland has stretched across too many countries to ever afford its people any real peace of mind. Embracing their itinerant destiny, a family of Iranian Kurds holed up in an Iraqi camp takes advantage of the fall of Saddam Hussein to return to the place they once called home.

The only one who stands in their way is a beautiful young woman who suddenly enters their lives: a cousin, long gone but not forgotten. Having fled the country for the safety of Northern Europe as a child, Sheelan (Rojan Mahamad) has finally rejoined her extended family after a 20-year search and shows no signs of letting go. Determined to get rid of her any way he can, Shaho (Shahab Fazili) disregards her good intentions and heads for the border with his family, stealing away in the first morning light. Much to her dismay, it would appear her beloved relatives never wanted to be found.

Shuffling the deck of forced migration, director Ebrahim Saeedi picks out the card of Kurdish misfortune as a means of illustrating a general malaise. Rigging the road to Iran with everything from distrustful policemen to rampant military forces, he sets up his main characters as the two polar ends of the same magnet: Shaho represents the South Pole eternally attracted to Oriental fatalism, while his cousin is the North Pole, inevitably drawn to European optimism. Shaho has accepted his destiny and is happy to return his ailing father to Iran even if it kills him, while his young cousin is determined to defy her fate and bring the entire family back to the safe heaven that is Sweden.

Or will the Middle East prove stronger than both of them? [Synopsis by Dimitri Eipides/Toronto International Film Festival]