In Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria, guerrilla organizations PKK, YPG/J and YBS have played decisive roles in battles against The Islamic State (ISIS), Jabhat Al Nusra and other militant organizations. With little official government support and light weapons, brothers, sisters, farmers and university students have taken up arms together against a common enemy- radical jihadist groups that contest the secular social reformations in Kurdistan. This war is not only fought on soil with crumbling buildings and quivering borders, but also a war of internal ideologies, naked to the human eye but pulsing and vivid within the human heart.
Joseph Anthony Lawrence, also known as Joey L., is a Canadian-born photographer and director based in Brooklyn, New York. His own curiosity for different ways of living have brought him to new and unfamiliar territories—from areas as far away as the holy lands of Varanasi—a trip that he first took as a teenager, which served as the catalyst for the self-titled film and foundation for his ongoing "Holy Men" series—to culturally-distinct neighborhoods tucked away between the graffitied-streets of Brooklyn—as depicted by his annual pilgrimage to document Halloween—a favorite personal project. A firm believer in fostering creativity and fulfillment through personal pursuits, Joey set out in November 2013 to shoot his first scripted film entitled "People of the Delta". The film not only featured members of the Daasanach and Hamar groups of Southern Ethiopia as the actors, but also collaborated with many of them for creative input throughout the entire film. Most recently, Joey traveled to the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria to document the volunteer fighters of the PKK and YPG. The new series, "Guerrilla Fighters of Kurdistan", highlight the men and women on the frontline of the ongoing conflict with ISIS—a war that is headlined daily but now humanized through Joey’s enlightening portraits.