Holy Bread documents the highly dangerous work of Kurdish kulbars, workers who try to support their families by transporting goods across the Iranian border. On foot, they carry their loads along mountain paths that are rocky, steep, and either slippery due to snow or blisteringly hot. Along the way, many of them suffer injuries, die in blizzards, or are shot by border police.
The powerful scenes of the men’s journeys are matched by their harrowing stories. No one chooses to become a kulbar—it’s simply an unavoidable consequence of not having any other form of work. Some of them can barely hold back tears as they talk about their experiences en route. Images of injuries and graves of loved ones increase the weight of their words.
The film crew followed these workers for nine years to document the impact of living like a human pack mule. Holy Bread gives exposure to a group of mostly men, who, driven by poverty, hunger, and despair, operate in the margins of society.