Sivas: A Remorseless Male World
The male world of rural Turkey is laid bare by Kaan Müjdeci in this remorseless, unrelenting debut film. The camera, often hand-held, bursts into the life of Aslan, an 11-year-old boy who feels dissed among his peers at school and explodes at them with obscenities and fisticuffs. An intense performance by Doğan İzci as Aslan drives the film throughout. Aslan is embittered, demonstrative, but always with a buttoned-up interior life: He confides in no one.
The adults in Aslan’s life trigger his resentment as well, and he responds to them the same way as the boys in school. He feels the lack of control in his life and wants to grow up fast. Aslan accompanies the men to a dogfighting match, where he feels sorry for the dog who lost the fight and is left to die by his owner. Aslan wants to adopt the dog, whose name is Sivas, “lion” in Turkish, staying by him all night in the field to keep him warm.
Reluctantly, the grownups let Aslan bring the dog home, where he cares for it. When Sivas recovers enough, the adults start entering him in fights, and he turns out to be unbeatable. Aslan, who has up to now tried to be the most rabid member of his family, screaming for victory alongside the adults, begins to change his demeanor as he sees his beloved companion bloodied and bruised time after time, even though the dog always comes out on top.
At last, Sivas is fighting for a championship, and Aslan has come full circle. He wants to pull Sivas back, but without letting down his macho façade. Sivas has helped him to begin the real process of becoming an adult, on his own terms and at his own pace.