Screaming “arthouse” from the first frame and never letting up, Ayten Mutlu Saray’s opaque, pompous debut feature, “Zara,” is convinced it’s transforming the pain of thwarted Kurdish nationalism into a poetic meditation on inner and outer exile. In reality, pic’s self-satisfied superiority and incomprehensible action would require a lengthy primer to decipher its airless metaphors, and even then, it would hardly warrant the effort. Yet another example of co-financer Hubert Bals Fund indiscriminately taking up politically correct causes without judgment, “Zara” has zero chances outside rarefied fests buying into the smug charade.
Two women incongruously wander across a flat landscape meant as a metaphor for the Kurdish homeland: Mirka (Serpil Ocal) carries a battered suitcase; her Swiss friend (or lover?), Nursa (Barbara Sotelsek), carries a violin case. Mirka is in search of her childhood village and a reconnection with memory, land and meaning, while presumably, Nursa stands in for the concerned Westerner wanting to understand. Along the way they encounter ultra-serious figures impenetrable in their symbolism. Visuals aren’t bad, but not good enough to compensate for the crushing pretentiousness, or the tedious soundscape of extended rumbling tones.