mardi 21 septembre 2010

İnaç’s newest film a literal 'Step into the darkness'

Director Atıl İnaç’s international award-winning “Büyük Oyun” (A Step into the Darkness) is literally a step into the darkness of the Middle East’s reality.
Do not expect any false hopes or any sugar-coated attempts of showing the vast blue skies as an indication of freedom. Only harsh landscapes, the burning sun or the chilling cold is illustrated in this bleak tale of one young woman, later joined by another, doing the only thing she knows how to do -- survive.

That’s it: survival, accompanied by the kindness and cruelty of strangers. For it is a gamble in this landscape, holding the hand of a stranger.

Cennet (Suzan Genç) is a young woman of Turkmen origin living in a village in Iraq. Conditions are dismal, but at least she has her loving family. Of course -- as movies remind us incessantly -- her life too will change within the flash of a second when American soldiers raid her village and end up killing off her entire family. The only person that Cennet can go to now is her older brother in Kirkuk. Thus begins her long journey.

She gets on the back of a truck with a handful of strangers and heads off to Kirkuk. For now, she is lucky; her companions are amicable. She arrives in the city only to find out that her brother has been wounded in a bomb blast and taken to İstanbul for treatment.

All alone, with her big eyes constantly full of tears, Cennet has no choice but to travel to Turkey without a passport, illegally.

She finds a group of men taking the route through the titanic mountains along the border. They are fierce men and protective of her initially. One of them tells her: “It is not the night you should be afraid of, but the day, for we can be shot at anytime by rebels or soldiers.” Right he is, because the light cannot give comfort to anyone who is an easy target. They cross the border. It all seems fine until Cennet is raped by the very same man who took her under his wing. The others turn a blind eye. She cannot handle it and attempts suicide. And who can blame her? She is all alone in the middle of nowhere, not even knowing if her brother is dead or alive.

She is later discovered by a group of Islamists, two men and two women, also taking the same route to İstanbul. They save her and also take her under their wing, especially Amira (Selen Uçer), the youngest in the group. They talk about life and death; Cennet asks her if in times of desolation dying is the right option.

Amira, who has also lost her entire family, replies solemnly that it can be. This becomes a friendship based on shared sorrow, one of the deepest connections that two people can have. Thus, from this point on, we will be even more traumatized by the events that will ensue because Cennet and Amira together transform into one of the most genuine female duos in film.

The group finally arrives in İstanbul, and maybe this will be Cennet’s chance to find her brother. If only it were that easy. She and Amira are designated as the Islamist group’s suicide bombers; the women will have to comply. The group knows it, the women know it. What do they have to lose? With one of the most gritting finales, we are shown the difference between holding on to life and not, and of course how the most “human” of human beings are taken advantage of through their loss by the two-headed snake called terror.

İnaç creates a powerful film, co-written by journalist Avni Özgürel. Running for just about 120 minutes, “A Step into the Darkness” is a tad long, yet it achieves its quest of exploring how some individuals, no matter the horrific events that find them, insist on standing firm. This is not a story of bright tomorrows, but of the most basic right of a human being -- that of existing.

Newcomer Suzan Genç should be commended for her performance, together with Selen Uçer, who is claiming her rightful significance in Turkish cinema. These two women carry the entire film on their shoulders. You will never forget their faces after this film, for their characters represent the reality of our times.



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