Journey to the Sun
original title: Gunese Yolculuk
dir-scr Yesim Ustaoglu
with Newroz Baz, Nazmi Qirix, Mizgin Kapazan, Ara Guler, Lucia Marano
release UK 15.Oct.99 St Louis Film Fest Nov.00
awards Blue Angel, Peace Film Award--Berlin 99; Best Turkish Director, Best Turkish Film, Fipresci National Award, Audience Choice--Istanbul 99
99/Turkey 1h45 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Fight the system. After being beaten by the cops, Mehmet (Baz) gets comfort from his girlfriend (Kapazan).
As an examination of life in modern Turkey, this is a startlingly effective story. It centres on Mehmet (Baz), a young man just going about his business as a water pipe inspector, falling in love with a girl (Kapazan) in the local laundry. Then he stumbles into a football fan brawl and meets Berzan (Qirix), another nice guy just trying to make it in the tough city. These two men form a bond that ends up in an epic journey from one end of Turkey to the other, into the scorched-earth territory along the Iraqi border.

This is one of those superb festival films that takes us somewhere we've never been, and probably have no real interest in going. But we're glad we took the journey. The characters are real people, and director-writer Ustaoglu creates a film that looks so authentic that we feel like we've actually been there. As Mehmet is wrongfully accused by the all-powerful police and then branded a criminal, we travel with him. Yes, it's a very political film; the Turkish authorities can't be terribly happy about its portrayal of a society that's fundamentally unjust. These young people just want to live without religious, social or political prejudice. According to this film, that will require a long, arduous journey for everyone.

[adult themes, language, violence] 8.Nov.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall