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Women’s Cinema from Tangiers to Tehran

Friday, April 3, 2009
6:30 p.m. Journey to the Sun
Yesim Ustaoglu (Turkey/Germany, 1999)

(Günese yolculuk). “Is it a crime to have dark skin?” asks Mehmet, a young worker from western Turkey detained by Istanbul police. Yesim Ustaoglu’s film provides a devastating answer in the story of Mehmet (Newroz Baz) and his friend Berzan (Nazmi Qirix), a street vendor from a Kurdish village near the Iraqi border. Caught on the wrong bus at the wrong time, Mehmet learns firsthand about the kind of persecution that Berzan and other Kurds routinely endure. His loyalty to Berzan ultimately takes him on a journey eastward through bombed-out villages and towns with tanks in their central squares, traveling by truck, bus, train, and horse-cart to his friend’s devastated birthplace. More than a political tract, Ustaoglu’s study of identity and empathy is beautifully attuned to context and landscape, from the jostling urban spaces of Istanbul to the ravaged places of the east. It was named Best European Film at the 1999 Berlin Film Festival.

—Juliet Clark

• Written by Ustaoglu, based on a story by Tayfun Pirselimoglu. Photographed by Jacek Petrycki. With Newroz Baz, Nazmi Qirix, Mizgin Kapazan, Nigar Aktar. (104 mins, In Turkish and Kurdish with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)