MIDDLE EAST WORLD FILMOGRAPHY 1997--S

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Sun Aug 6 18:26:25 MDT 2000


This is a finished post. I mistakenly sent the previous post without completing
it.

Dear Julio Pino, thanks for the recommendations on the Algerian movie. In
addition, I definitely
recommend you to see _Yol_ ("The Way"). It is master piece of Kurdish novelist
and socialist film maker Yilmaz Guney. Although the story was filmed by the
Turkish director Serif Goren in 1982, the film is still considered to be made
by Yilmaz Guney. Guney did not only take part in directing the movie behind the
scenes, but also actively participated in it. Mind you that the movie was
produced under exceptional circumstances. It was a time when the military took
over in 1980, so its presentation was political risky. The movie got its first
public performance in February 12,  1999, seventeen years after it was
completed.

When the story was written by Guney, the regime did not only ban Guney's
novels, but also prosecuted Guney for his political ideas, and with false
evidence, sent him to jail for a life a sentence due to "murder".. Furthermore,
more sentences were added to his persecution because of his other writings. In
the year 1980, Guney sent from the prison to film maker Gorsen detailed
instructions for the movie. In the Summer of 1981, Gorsen started filming the
movie, while the civil war against the Kurds was going on in the South. Thus, a
movie dealing with the Kurdish issue was considered to be going against  the
national unity. Early 80s was a time of political turmoil and oppression. A lot
of  people were jailed because of their opinions. Knowing that there was a
zero chance of survival for the movie in Turkey, Guney fled abroad during his
vacation from prison. The technical work of the movie was done in France, from
where it was brought to Cannes, and won the first prize of Cannes Film
Festival. At that time, the author of the movie was still unknown.

Blamed for being infidel by the military regime, Yilmaz Guney lost  the Turkish
citizenship in 1983, and a year after died in France. I have seen other films
that Guney had produced and acted in such as "Arkadas", but I was not fully
aware until I got to know him in details that Guney produced more than 100
movies, most of which were destroyed by the Turkish government. Only 11 films
were rescued, because their negatives were kept abroad, according to his wife,
Fatos Guney. Later, _Yol_ was brought to the screen by the efforts of Guney's
wife and Yesilcam (Turkish Hollywood), after the prohibition on Guney was
finally canceled in 1992. Still, one screen  is censored, where the name
Kurdistan is shown in big letters in South Eastern Turkey

What is _Yol_ specifically about? Is it uniquely a Kurdish movie? Does it touch
upon ethnic issues? Or, deal with social questions and the political regime in
Turkey in much broader terms?

To reply to your question, it is both, Julio. First off, _Yol_ deals with the
political oppression in Turkey during the military regime and the Kurdish
nationalist movement for seeking independence. While it would be an
over-statement to depict _Yol_ as a movie of  Kurdish nationalism, it is more
accurate to describe it as a movie of social problems, touching upon unresolved
issues like the socio-economic underdevelopment of the South, oppressiveness of
traditions, and repercussions of  the civil war on the ordinary lives of
Kurdish village people.  You will see throughout  the movie how the war creates
devastating circumstances by reinforcing the underdevelopment of the region.
Social problems are explained through the daily lives Kurdish people.

More specifically,  the movie describes the story of three prisoners who take
one week vacation  from a military labor camp to visit their homes back to
village. There are three episodes in the movie, reflecting the adventures of
three men. One man's (Omer) story is about a war taking place on the Syrian
border. In this war, so many Kurdish men die that Kurdish women can not find
enough husband to get married. Here you see the oppresiveness of  traditional
family  structure and its crisis under war circumstances. When the other two
men go to their homes, they face a more miserable situation. One's wife could
not wait for her husband and had sex with another men. In the absence of
husband, women's dignity is measured by her sexual loyalty to her husband,
especially in the Southern part of Turkey. A woman is doomed to wait. Back to
the movie, in order to restore the family honor, the father of the wife chains
her daughter for 8 months at home for her husband to come and rape.her. The
third man's situation is even more miserable. He is condemned by his wife's
family for keeping his wife for a long time, and a death penalty is waiting for
both him and the wife to restore order of the traditions. Once the order is
released, it is no way returnable or forgivable. The movie deeply  illustrates
the pesistence of  traditions.


In a nutshell, _Yol_  still wants to convey the message that there is some
"light"  we can see at the end of the road. Thus, the  _Yol_ symbolically
represents hope, overcoming of traditions, justice and a better world for
peasant people. It is pessimistic only to a certain extend. In my view,  _Yol_
is a movie that typically represents the modernist  ideals of the Turkish
leftists in the 70s, and the main problem that persistently occupied them.
Capitalist underdevelopment in rural areas and the failed modernity of the
Kemalist project.

I have to gooooo...... go go go (Scofield!)

hug to comrades,

Xxxx










> >Xxxx: to this list I would add a personal favorite, the Algerian film
> >"Ramparts of Clay" from 1971(US release date---it is available, but >hard to
>
> >find, on video).
> >The film begins with an intriguing quote from Franz Fanon: "The >bourgeois
> >phase of national development is a useless phase."

> >The movie is not set in Algeria but in a nameless North African country,
> >implictly Tunisia. It tells the story of workers at a rock quarry who go on
> >strike, all seen through the eyes of a Muslim girl---who never once speaks!
> >Instead the film conveys its political message through music, grunts,
> >chants etc.
> >A moving experience.
> >BTW, what can you tell me about "Yol", which I've heard praised but never
> >seen? Worth a look ?
> >Julio Cesar

--

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222



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