Screenplay, Metin Belgin, Ulku Karaosmanoglu. Camera (color), Colin Mounier; editor, Nikos Kanakis; music, Thesia Panayiotou. Reviewed at Istanbul Film Festival (national competition), April 29, 1999. (Also in Cannes Film Festival — market.) Original Turkish title: Kayikci. Running time: 88 MIN.
With: Memet Ali Alabora, Katerina Mousatsos, Mustafa Avkran, Eleni Philippa, Levent Ozdilek.
Young love strikes a blow for better Turkish-Greek relations in “Boatman,” a Romeo and Juliet tale of the Aegean. Pic’s fairy-tale romance is wholly unlikely , but its sunny sensuality and attractive thesps could appeal to clean-cut teen audiences and some small screen buyers.
Boatman, a deaf mute, was a foundling in the Turkish fishing village of Cesme. Now a strikingly handsome 20-year-old fisherman (Memet Ali Alabora), he falls for a pretty Greek girl (Katerina Mousatsos) he hears singing at a music festival. When he heroically swims across the border between his village and her island, imitating the ancient myth of Leander crossing the Dardanelles to tryst with his lover Hero, the Greek police take him in for questioning, followed by the Turkish police on his way home. Scripters Metin Belgin and Ulku Karaosmanoglu seem to ignore the existence of passports, the better to build up obstacles to the pair’s forbidden love. More convincing is director Biket Ilhan’s depiction of mutual prejudice and distrust between Turks and Greeks.