Social Expectations Conflict with Family Ties
Best Film from the Arab World/New Horizons Competition-An unforeseen road trip leaves young village-boy Siyar (Taher Abdullah Taher), from Iraqi Kurdistan, on the crossroads of love and honour in this compelling drama by * Hisham Zaman. Siyar has become the man of the house after the death of his father, and his patriarchal responsibility extends to his older sister Nermin (Bahar Ozen), who has her eyes on a boy their father rejected as a suitor. When Nermin flees the village, Siyar sets out on a voyage from East to West, first across the border into Turkey and then Europe.
Turkey is brutal, from the shady motel that Siyar first lives in, to meeting the shoeshiner Evin (Suzan Ilir), a shabby street urchin who turns out to be a teenage girl. Siyar will do anything to find his sister and kill her in the name of honour. His ability to look past love and family ties to restore the family’s reputation takes him inexorably into the hands of smugglers and traffickers. Soon he finds himself at a checkpoint at the Greek border where he violates a basic Kurdish code of honour to protect Evin, who has successfully kept up her boy act and accompanied him in his mission to find Nermin. This puts Siyar in the danger zone with the village Agha’s men trying to get Siyar to Nermin and the smuggler party who have gone rogue. Evin also has another agenda – to find her estranged father, a small-time singer who now lives in Berlin. It is clear that the trip to Europe means the world to both Siyar and Evin, and they will do anything to get there.
After a brief separation, Siyar and Evin reunite in Europe and help each other face their demons. Evin discovers the truth about her father and Siyar comes face to face with his sister. Their feelings for each other are also shown to be escalating before it all comes to a startling halt. Zaman’s portrayal of this coming of age drama is set perfectly against the arid lands of Iraqi Kurdistan. Because the film is set in a predominantly oriental region, traditional folk music is blended into the score effortlessly. As the film progresses, the background is seen changing from the barren village to the crowded streets of Istanbul to the vast pine-covered expanses of Europe. Cinematographer Marius Matzow Gulbrandsen does a fantastic job interpreting Siyar’s journey through the film’s stark visuals. In a way, his journey from East to West is also a journey of self-discovery, finding love and forgiveness.