×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Berlin Film Review: ‘Come to My Voice’

Huseyin Karabey's beautifully crafted sophomore feature fleshes out a Kafkaesque scenario involving a Kurdish girl and her grandmother.

With:
Feride Gezer, Melek Ulger, Tuncay Akdemir, Muhsin Tokcu, Ali Tekbas, Kadir Ilter, Murat Catalbas, S. Emrah Ozdemir, Nazmi Sinan Mihci, Bahri Hakan. (Kurdish, Turkish dialogue)

A Kurdish girl and her grandmother are placed in the Kafkaesque situation of needing to find nonexistent guns in order to free the girl’s father from a Turkish prison in “Come to My Voice,” a beautifully crafted drama whose traditional storytelling movingly conveys a sense of a community burdened by loss. Making full use of the stunning landscape near Lake Van, in southeastern Turkey, sophomore helmer Huseyin Karabey’s follow-up to “My Marlon and Brando” was practically lost in the Berlinale’s Generation sidebar, but is sure to achieve prominence at other fests. Boutique arthouse distribs should take note.

A Kurdish village gathers around a bard (Muhsin Tokcu), known as a “Dengbej,” to hear the narrative that becomes the film. Just as Berfe (Feride Gezer) is telling her young granddaughter, Jiyan (Melek Ulger), the story of a fox that lost its tail, the Turkish army raids their rustic village, demanding weapons that a spiteful informer claims are hidden in peoples’ homes. The malicious captain (Nazmi Sinan Mihci) has Jiyan’s father, Temo (Tuncay Akdemir), arrested along with all the menfolk, informing the villagers they can free their loved ones if they bring him their weapons.

The community, already depleted and worn down by oppression, is stymied since there are no weapons. Jiyan collects her friends’ plastic water guns, hoping that might help. Berfe digs up an old rifle that belonged to her father and the two trek over to the barracks, hoping they can exchange the gun for Temo, but no luck: The captain humiliates the elderly woman, telling her to bring him a real weapon.

Bowed but not broken, the resourceful Berfe investigates other options. She tries a smuggler working the Iraqi border, though he’s captured before an exchange can be made. Next she and Jiyan take a bus to her sister’s home and there secures her nephew’s pistol, but a roadblock on the way home means they have to walk through the mountains to avoid being caught. On the path they meet three blind bards, led by Casim (Bahri Hakan), who help Berfe and the child evade the soldiers’ checkpoints.

By using the Dengbej to frame Berfe’s story, Karabey cements the sense of a tight-knit community, making the tale a part of their collective memory rather than the narrative of one small village. Stripped to its essence, the scenario has the elemental quality of a modern legend, and further storytelling — as Berfe distracts Jiyan with the fable of the fox — dovetails with the grandmother’s ingenuity, each plotline forming parallels that address concepts of mistrust and cooperation.

While the touchingly realized relationship between Berfe and Jiyan forms the pic’s emotional core, it’s how Karabey subtly situates this within the general tenor of the population that really sets “Come to My Voice” apart from other films shot in the region. Rarely before has the sense of occupation in the Kurdish regions been so starkly captured. Intimidated villages are depopulated of their fighting-age men – Karabey includes terrific, mournful shots of women alone in their houses after ransacking by Turkish soldiers – and every family has loved ones jailed or dead. Roadblocks curtail movement and instill an exhausted fear even in the elderly, while the whims of commanders are further hurdles to negotiate in order to survive.

Contrasting with this sense of anxiety and mistrust is the awe-inspiring panorama, whose majestic peaks and verdant fields just free of snow act as a soothing reminder of something greater than politics and ethnic strife. Berfe, Jiyan and the people they meet are not insignificant, set against these crests and valleys, but rather a symbiotic part of the terrain and thus a natural riposte to the occupying forces. Non-professional actress Gezer fits perfectly into this atmosphere, her placid yet firm mien silently connecting to land and community.

Anne Misselwitz’s stately lensing matches the iconic nature of the storytelling, with splendid vistas caught in long shots that somehow feel both soaring and human. Together with editor Baptiste Gacoin, the helmer imposes a satisfyingly even pace that keeps the narrative lucid, though despite having been programmed in the Berlinale’s Generation section, this isn’t a kids’ film. Traditional Kurdish music thematically elides with the idea of a folk tale and adds aural pleasures to the visual riches.

Popular on Variety

Berlin Film Review: 'Come to My Voice'

Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Generation Kplus), Feb. 14, 2014. Running time: 105 MIN. Original title: “Were denge min”

Production: (Turkey-Germany-France) An Asi Film presentation of an Asi Film, Neue Mediopolis Filmproduktion, EZ Films, Cine Plus Filmproduktion production. (International sales: EZ Films, Paris.) Produced by Huseyin Karabey, Emre Yeksan. Coproducers, Alexander Ris, Elie Meirovitz, Elia Meirovitz, Frank Evers, Helge Neubronner, Andreas Eicher.

Crew: Directed by Huseyin Karabey. Screenplay, Karabey, Abidin Parilti. Camera (color, HD), Anne Misselwitz; editor, Baptiste Gacoin; music, Serhat Bostanci, Ali Tekbas, A. Imran Erin; production designers, Faith Ozcelik, Hulya Karakas; costume designer, Filiz Karaldi; sound (5.1), Miroslav Babic, Gregor Arnold; line producer, Resat Ayaz; assistant director, Baris Hanciogullari; casting, Ezgi Baltas.

With: Feride Gezer, Melek Ulger, Tuncay Akdemir, Muhsin Tokcu, Ali Tekbas, Kadir Ilter, Murat Catalbas, S. Emrah Ozdemir, Nazmi Sinan Mihci, Bahri Hakan. (Kurdish, Turkish dialogue)

More Film

  • The Lion King

    Average Movie Ticket Price Falls 4% in Third Quarter of 2019

    Average ticket prices for the third quarter have dropped 4% to $8.93, down from Q2’s $9.26, the National Association of Theatre Owners announced today. However, compared with the third quarter of 2018, ticket price has risen 1.1% from $8.83. The summer box office is down 2.13% from 2018, though the third quarter box office is [...]

  • Tilda Swinton to Preside Over The

    Tilda Swinton to Preside Over The Marrakech Film Festival

    Tilda Swinton, the iconoclastic British actress and producer, is set to preside over the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival, succeeding to American director James Gray. Swinton, who won an Oscar and a BAFTA award for best supporting actress for “Michael Clayton,” has been leading an eclectic acting career. She has collaborated with [...]

  • The King Netflix

    Middleburg Film Festival Brings Hollywood to Virginia

    For the last seven years, audiences have flocked to the Middleburg Film Festival. Running October 17th – 21st, and situated in the wine-country hills of historic Middleburg, Virg., the festival usually highlights some of the year’s buzziest titles, and 2019 is no exception. “We’re a smaller festival with fewer overall screenings than other events, so we [...]

  • Kelly McCormick and David Leitch'Fast &

    'Wheelman' Director to Helm 'Versus' From David Leitch, Kelly McCormick (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Wheelman” director Jeremy Rush is in negotiations to helm the action movie “Versus,” with Kelly McCormick and David Leitch producing. Rush will direct the Universal movie from a script penned by “Three Musketeers” scribe Alex Litvak and “American Assassin” writer Mike Finch. Plot details are being kept under wraps, though it will follow the genre [...]

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • ALACARTE_HOME

    Brazil’s Pandora Filmes Readies Country’s First Classic Film Streaming Platform

    Brazilian distribution company Pandora Filmes was founded by André Sturm in 1989 as the country’s first independent distributor of foreign and domestic, classic and contemporary arthouse cinema. Still pushing the envelope three decades later, Juliana Brito is representing the company at this year’s Lumiere Festival, looking for classic film titles to fill out the catalog [...]

  • Hannah Minghella

    Bad Robot Poaches TriStar Pictures President Hannah Minghella to Lead Film Unit

    In a surprise announcement Thursday, J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot revealed it has lured away Sony Pictures executive Hannah Minghella to lead its film division. Minghella will report to Abrams and Bad Robot co-CEO Katie McGrath. She will oversee both development and production. TriStar executive vice president Nicole Brown will take up the mantle in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content