REVIEW: Honeyland [2019]

Now we’ll leave them half. Shot over three years about 20 km from the city directors Ljubo Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska call home (Skopje), Honeyland looks at the delicate balance tenuously held between nature and mankind. The duo take us into an abandoned farming village to do so—a place where Hatidze Muratova continues to live as the last in a long line of Macedonian wild beekeepers. It’s a simple life ruled by her devotion to an eighty-five year old blind and bedridden mother (Nazife Muratova) and the tiny insects that…

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TIFF18 REVIEW: Saf [2018]

Everybody lies. America isn’t the only country with a portion of its population rejecting refugee clemency (although it’s the most high profile due to international stature, economic wealth, and so-called Christian charity). It’s also not the only one blinded to its hate when confronting the matter. Because that’s what it is to look down on someone worse off than you: hate. Blaming immigrants for “stealing” jobs and “ruining” neighborhoods exemplifies resentment. Just because your community backs this thought process doesn’t make it any less a product of bigotry, racism, and…

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REVIEW: Geride Kalanlar [Leftovers] [2017]

“Let’s hope it’s not her” We each possess a blind spot, one seeking to shield the horrors of life we know exist regardless. It manifests a sense of optimism in that we are safe because we live morally or that those we trust are inherently good. The opposite—to live in constant paranoia believing tragedy is inevitable—is not living at all. That’s how you imprison yourself, wall off your emotions, and ensure no one will get close enough to hurt you or deserve mourning. But we need physical contact and emotional…

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REVIEW: Kedi [2017]

“Without the cat, Istanbul would lose part of its soul” I’m not an animal lover, a reality one subject in Ceyda Torun‘s documentary Kedi presumes means I cannot love anything. Such a sentiment is hyperbolic, but there’s something to be said about people’s interactions with animals exposing how they’ll interact with humans too. You don’t have to be an animal person to understand their role in others’ lives or the fact that they too are living, breathing entities. At a certain point you must reach down and give a dog…

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Tereddüt [Clair Obscur] [2017]

“Like a thorn” Life for a woman like Elmas (Ecem Uzun) in Turkey is a living nightmare. An eighteen-year old all but sold to a willing husband (Serkan Keskin‘s Koca) much older than she to clean his house, give her mother-in-law (Sema Poyraz‘s Kaynana) across the hall insulin shots, and—marriage or not—get raped every night, she’s gradually losing her sense of identity and mind. She’s so young and unversed in the world that she makes a game out of folding the sheets atop their bed to see whether a coin…

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LOCARNO16 REVIEW: Reise der Hoffnung [Journey of Hope] [1991]

“You always through stones on the path” It’s been twenty-five years since Xavier Koller‘s Reise der Hoffnung [Journey of Hope] won the Best Foreign Film Oscar and yet watching it today feels urgently contemporary. Between the political unrest in Turkey and volatile international discourse pertaining to refugees as countries vehemently close their borders and American presidential candidate Donald Trump craves an opportunity to send foreigners back where they came, hope has become synonymous with naiveté. It’s not all bad with the Olympics recognizing a refugee team and many stunning tales…

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REVIEW: Bir Uyku Vakti [In a Time for Sleep] [2016]

“They are all the same except for their names” Writer/director Tofiq Rzayev‘s latest short Bir Uyku Vakti [In a Time for Sleep] appears to have a lot to say beneath its melodramatic plot. I’m just not sure exactly what it is. This could be a “lost in translation” case, but I found it difficult to fully grasp the underlying themes besides an obvious sense of girl power in its characters freeing themselves from the domineeringly despicable man in their lives. I almost want to say that the result of what…

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REVIEW: Mustang [2015]

“At least something will happen” While intriguing for France to select a film in Arabic as their sole Foreign Language Oscar hopeful, you cannot deny Mustang‘s quality. Academy rules center around financial stake rather than mother tongue, the stipulation being that dialogue only needs a non-English majority. A tale of five sisters conservatively raised in a small northern Turkish village definitely fits that bill as religion and culture gradually imprisons them onto a path none have willfully chosen. For an American to witness their struggle after a seemingly harmless romp…

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TIFF15 REVIEW: Baskin [2015]

“Open the eyes of your heart” It starts off with a late night dinner scene between a quintet of cops telling crazy stories and losing their temper with the help straight out of a Tarantino movie and continues on its descent to Hell with a writhing, mashing, sexual bloodletting orgy calling to mind E. Elias Merhige‘s Begotten. This is Can Evrenol‘s debut feature Baskin (adapted from his own short of the same name), a journey to the depths of despair that’s at once nightmare, memory, and horrific present of unimaginable…

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