Director/Script: Emin Alper
Producer: Emin Alper, Enis Kostepen, Seyfi Teoman
Cast: Tamar Levent, Reha Ozcan, Mehmet Ozgur, Berk Hakman, Banu Fotocan
Turkey, Greece | 94mins Drama Subtitles
As impressive an opener as you are going to get, from auteur Emin Alper. Made on a tiny budget and set in the enormously atmospheric mountain countryside, Alper has already pulled down some international festival awards for this debut, including Best First Feature (Special Mention), Berlinale, Caligari Film Prize, Berlinale Forum, Best National Film Award, Istanbul FF, NETPAC Award – Karlovy Vary IFF, Special Jury Award – Sarajevo FF and Best Feature Film – Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
Retired forester Faik, living with friend Mehmet and his wife Meryem, has his son Nusret and two grandsons Zafer and Caner staying for the summer, but the rifts are not far beneath the surface compounded by Faik’s ongoing feud with the local nomads encroaching on his land.
This really is a fine film; never mind debut, and the story reveals itself in a minimal, finely-weighted manner as we begin to understand the relationships between the various men as much in their differences as in their ties. Faik has such a strong link to the land, which is already lost to his son, never mind his grandsons. For him there is the earth, his goats, his poplar trees and not much else but you unquestioningly defend these things with your life.
Beyond The Hill is all but a Western in genre. The epic nature of the land really is king and must be respected. Its brooding presence almost airless, despite the wide-open spaces The acting throughout is just splendid. The cast all inhabit their characters totally and in a way that one feels as though one is witnessing life, not just a drama. There’s also a timeless quality to the setting that transcends the now and a universality to the parable as an observation of man and his failings down through the Ages.
Really masterful storytelling, a million miles from civilisation and 3-D. AT
BEYOND THE HILL is screening at the LONDON TURKISH FILM FESTIVAL 2013 AT THE ICA, RIO DALSTON AND CINE LUMIERE FROM 21 FEBRUARY TO 4 MARCH.