The 14th annual Boston Turkish Film Festival kicks off this Wednesday, March 19, with it’s usual rich lineup of films. As always, the festival will take place over the next three weeks, with several screenings on Saturday and Sunday, plus a number of screenings throughout the week each week.
Here’s the lineup of feature films at this year’s festival. All films screen at Remis Auditorium at the Museum of Fine Arts. For full info on the festival, you can check out their full website at http://www.bostonturkishfilmfestival.org/. As always, film descriptions are taken from the festival website.
Thursday March 19
Aydın, a former actor, runs a small hotel in central Anatolia with his young wife Nihal with whom he has a stormy relationship and his sister Necla who is suffering from her recent divorce. In winter as the snow begins to fall, the hotel turns into a shelter but also an inescapable place that fuels their animosities…
Friday March 20
ACROSS THE SEA
Damla is a successful but homesick New Yorker, married to Kevin. Although six months pregnant, she doesn’t feel ready for motherhood. Devastated to discover that her cousin is selling their childhood home, Damla visits the hometown in Turkey with Kevin. Once there, Damla is drawn into reconciling with Burak, the best friend and first love she left abruptly eight years earlier, but Burak is aloof towards her. Nonetheless, Damla has to find a way to confront him with a secret she has kept for years before she can move on.
When a murder is committed at the mosque where Selman Bulut officiates as the imam, he rolls up his sleeves to solve the crime despite the police appearing to take little interest. However, the methods Selman employs are as unorthodox as he himself. The maverick imam and unconventional people around him all have some connection with the murder. Out there are long-hidden secrets, lies, a loan shark’s money, a ravenous dog, love, and a murder in which everyone is a suspect.
Saturday March 21
A DREAM SCHOOL IN THE STEPPES
Tepecik Hayal Okulu
The passion to describe every moment of one’s life through images… Could it give the power to struggle against all kinds of obstacles to someone fascinated by cinema? Ahmet Uluçay, well-known by his idiosyncratic short films and his only feature film “Boats out of Watermelon Rinds”, had to face the fact that he had a brain tumor, and had his first operation 12 years ago. This documentary film, in accordance with Uluçay’s life between reality and dream, draws us from the half-lit corridors of a hospital to the village, to childhood and dreams, and into the world of a passionate cinéaste.
AĞRI AND THE MOUNTAIN
Ağrı ve Dağ
In a small remote village at the skirts of Mount Ararat, nine-year-old Rodja wakes up to a blustery winter morning. As she gets ready for school, men work in the beautiful, windswept landscape, and women prepare dough for bread. This is a glimpse into the life of one child in a place where time seems to stand still.
Sunday March 22
Kaya, a fisherman, lives with his wife, Filiz, in a village on the shores of a lake. They have a young daughter, Deniz, who is unable to speak. In search of a cure for Deniz, Filiz decides to try an ancient alternative remedy. She thinks that feeding the girl a breed of fish believed to be medicinal will heal her disorder. The trouble is, the fish is no longer to be found in the village lake. Filiz sets off for another lake to find it. In the end, she catches eight of the rare fish and starts feeding them to her daughter. When Kaya discovers the fish at home, he has the idea of farming them commercially in the hope of making some money. To set up a fish farm, however, he needs money he doesn’t have.
I’M NOT HIM
Ben O Değilim
Middle-aged, unmarried loner Nihat works in a hospital cafeteria. When young colleague Ayşe invites him to her house for dinner, he accepts despite rumors that her husband, Necip, is in jail for a serious offence. When Nihat sees a wedding photograph, he notices that Ayşe’s imprisoned husband looks an awful lot like him. The awkward relationship that ensues changes Nihat’s life more profoundly than he could ever have foreseen.
Wednesday March 25
Gallipoli is unique in world history: it is not just a battle; it is also an epic tale of courage, self-sacrifice and stubborn endurance. It is also a story of enemies who displayed mutual respect during the battle and who became friends after it. No battle has forged such strong comradeship and everlasting peace in its aftermath. On the shores of Gallipoli in 1915, Australia and New Zealand became nations and Turkey embarked on its journey to become a republic from the ruins of an empire. The documentary revolves around few soldiers: Turks, Anzacs, and British. It traces their lives before, during, and after the war, but particularly during. The whole battle, its effects on world history, the general strategy and the leaders of both sides are portrayed around the personal stories of these ten soldiers.
Friday March 27
Cenk has just returned to Istanbul from the United States. Suppressed love slowly begins to resurface when he encounters Ece, a woman he has been romantically involved with in the past. Suddenly, an attempted robbery on a quiet, gloomy house results in a crime being committed. Ece flees the scene of the crime, cueing the arrival of Faruk, Cenk’s best friend and Ece’s fiancé. The two best friends struggle to keep their secrets hidden from one another. An interwoven chain of events unfolds as these three urban characters are put to the ultimate test, their sufferings and disappointments being dragged to the surface for all to see.
Saturday March 28
SONG OF MY MOTHER
Ali, a young teacher, lives with his mother, Nigar, in the Tarlabaşı district of Istanbul until an urban regeneration project uproots them from their home. After being forced to evacuate their village in Eastern Turkey in the 1990s, they now find their lives interrupted once again. Problems start when they move out to a remote new construction area surrounded by tall buildings. Convinced that all her old neighbors have returned
to the village, Nigar packs up her belongings every morning ready to move back too. Some days she gets lost in the city. Ali tries different ways of keeping her company: he takes her with him wherever he goes on his motorbike, buys her little chicks to look after and keep her busy, and tries to hunt down a cassette with the song she has been dreaming about. At the same time, Ali discovers that his girlfriend, Zeynep, is pregnant, but he doesn’t feel ready to become a father. He is torn between the two women.
Ulaş, the son of a music-lover father tries to declare his love to Irem with a mix tape he’s put together. However, they fall apart and it takes him 10 years to complete this declaration. 10 years later, Ulaş who has become a music critic meets Irem by coincidence and yet it will take them another decade to get together.
Sunday March 29
Şarkı Söyleyen Kadınlar
An unlikely group of troubled women struggle with their various trials, united by extraordinary reserves of energy, courage, hope and faith. As the women transform their tragedy with songs of rebellion and life, they also infect the frustrated Adem, a child who has never grown up, with the joys of being alive and human. The film follows them throughout their inspiring, humanistic journeys into the different dimensions of existence.
WHISPER IF I FORGET
Two sisters. Two singers. Each chasing career, freedom and love, while keeping a deep, dark secret. A reunion, years later, will reveal what it all means.
Wednesday April 1
Circle, to a large extent is a tragic-comic story of three people, which revolves around a brand new but unused airport. Circle is a peculiar story of an ordinary man caught between an untimely romance and brave new hostile world in which hopelessness, submission, courage become existential methods. Tragicomic story of three people, Feramus, Betül and Arif who conjure up interesting solutions to the extraordinary situations and obstacles generated by the turn of the social wheel is set in a brand new yet unused airport which is an allegory for a dysfunctional socio-political system.
Thursday April 2
COME TO MY VOICE
(Were Dengê Min)
In a snowy Kurdish mountain village in eastern Turkey, an old woman, Berfé, and her young granddaughter, Jiyan, are troubled when Temo – Berfé’s son, Jiyan’s father and the only man of the household – is arrested with the other men in the village. The local gendarmerie accuses them of hiding guns and makes it known that none of them will be released until their families hand over the guns. The trouble is, there are no guns, at least not to the knowledge of these two blameless women. Desperate and alone, Berfé and Jiyan set off in search of a gun to rescue their beloved Temo. But how will their innocence and naivety overcome a system that threatens to draw them into the sullied world of an interminable conflict?
Friday April 3
Hamit drives back and forth between Istanbul’s slums and a destitute border village close to the city. He works for Ali, a charcoal dealer-cum-human trafficker, carrying charcoal one way and illegal immigrants the other. The young and timid Mehmet helps them both out and often finds himself caught in the middle of their power struggles. Hamit feels stuck in the desolate village. Being subordinate to Ali and sharing a rundown room with Mehmet are not what he expected of life. He tried to escape once, but failed to achieve the ‘dream life’ and this only intensifies his frustration. His only comfort is an older woman, Denise, a foreign botanist who works at the local research center. They meet secretly in a cottage by the sea and make love to the crashing of the waves. Denise is suspicious of Hamit but asks no questions, and Hamit doesn’t tell much anyway. But the sea is unforgiving and pressure builds as a new group of refugees arrive and are unable to leave the village. Their relationship is buffeted like plants in the harsh coastal wind. And then, one a stormy night, Hamit decides to change his destiny.
Saturday April 4
BUT MÜZEYYEN, THAT’S THE DEEPEST DESIRE
Fakat Müzeyyen Bu Derin Bir Tutku
Arif describes himself as ‘a writer with no published book’. He runs into Müzeyyen at a time when he is trying to figure out women and love. If Arif is sick of women’s endless expectations, Müzeyyen seems to want nothing but to give; if he thinks women always talk about themselves, Müzeyyen says nothing but encourages him to talk instead. Müzeyyen cuts her own hair, doesn’t want to be a ‘nice’ woman and never smiles, flirts or make promises unless she really means it. As he works on finishing his novel, Arif wanders around Müzeyyen’s passionate and mysterious world. At the end of this love-filled journey, she will bring him great sorrow, but also some of the answers he has been looking for so desperately.
Sunday April 5
A family in Anatolian moorlands: a father, barely able to look after his family, a mother like a ghost and a hopeless brother. Anxious to break the chain of fate, Aslan (11) pushes to be the prince in the school play. But his chances are slim: he is trying to compete with Osman (11), son of the village chief. He is given a part in the end, but as a dwarf. Osman is the prince, and Aslan’s dream girl, Ayşe, Snow White. When Aslan finds Sivas, a fighter Kangal dog one day, the balance begins to shift. At first, Aslan doesn’t want Sivas to fight, but the power is there. He wins fights, gets tougher every day and starts to be like the others, until his brother sells Sivas.
WHY CAN’T I BE TARKOVSKY
Neden Tarkovski Olamıyorum
Tragicomic story of Bahadır, an aspiring 35-year-old director who spends his life making cheap television films inspired by the stories of folk songs. On the face of it, everything stands between him and his ambition to make films like his idol, Tarkovsky.
The Bride, telling the story of a family from Yozgat who migrated to Istanbul, their efforts to fit in the new living conditions, and their struggle for survival, is one of the best examples of migration stories in the Turkish Cinema. “The Bride”, the first installment of Ömer Lütfi Akad’s internationally-renowned trilogy, is readily accepted as the most successful of the three, the other installments being “The Wedding” (1973) and “Bloody Money” (1974). The film reflects the rise of the “Little Anatolia” in Istanbul, a phenomenon that will later on expand. This is the North American Premiere of this digitally restored classic.