Balkans and Anatolia

Alive (2009)
Artan Minarolli
Albania
90′
Twenty-two-year-old Koli is studying at Tirana university. When he hears of his father’s death, he returns to his native mountain village in the north to attend the funeral. During a walk through the countryside of his childhood, someone takes a shot at him. In a state of shock, the young man discovers that he is part of a blood feud sparked by his grandfather sixty years earlier. He goes to see the family to whom, according to custom, he owes his life - and, in doing so, he makes the acquaintance of the murderer whom fate has determined will take it. Away from his modern urban environment, Koli suddenly finds himself in a world of ancient, inexorable rituals, from which he is unable to extricate himself even after his return to Tirana. How deeply entrenched in people are the traditions of their forebears? And to what extent are they able to accept them as part of their modern, superficial lifestyle? How far-reaching is the perception of one’s own destiny and affinity with one’s roots? Director Artan Minarolli dedicated his film drama to the eighty-six illegal immigrants who drowned off the coast of Italy during an attempt to flee their native country in March 1997.
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An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (2013)
Danis Tanović
Bosnia and Herzegovina
74′
A Roma family living far away from the urban centres of Bosnia- Herzegovina. The father Nazif salvages metal from old cars and sells it to a scrap-dealer. The mother Senada keeps the house tidy, cooks, bakes and cares for their two small daughters. One day, she feels a sharp pain in her abdomen. At the clinic she is told there is something wrong with the baby she is carrying: "They say it’s dead." She is at risk of septicaemia and they must operate immediately. But Senada has no medical insurance; since the operation will cost much more than the family can afford the hospital’s head refuses to treat her. A race against time and Senada’s mounting sense of hopelessness begins ... Danis Tanović weaves these dramatic events, his protagonists’ economic hardship and fear of death into a wintery tale. The fact that the non-professional cast are re-enacting an episode from their own lives contributes greatly to the film’s sense of authenticity and social realism. At the same time, the film demonstrates one Roma family’s extraordinary courage and unerring will to survive.
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Araf (2012)
Yesim Ustaoglu
Turkey
125′
Pretty Zehra and handsome Olgun spend most of their young lives working in a service station cafeteria near a lonely highway. Their monotonous work shifts are broken up only by sparks of naive expectations of a brighter future. Everything seems transient about their surroundings. The once important industrial area is now a faceless place of economic waste and unemployment. Most of the area's occupants have all escaped to the big city in search of opportunity. But Zehra, Olgun and their friends still remain, caught somewhere in between the past and an uncertain future. Zehra dreams that love will take her away from her meaningless job and life at home with her strict old-fashioned mother. She becomes fascinated by an older truck driver, Mahur, who spends much of his time on the road. As Zehra's desire for Mahur turns into a tragic first love, her rebellious friend Olgun becomes more and more frustrated, stuck at home, not yet a young man on his own. Zehra and Olgun will experience a bittersweet rite of passage, leading to both suffering and awakening. But as they say goodbye to their childhood innocence, love and hope will help them to move forward.
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Bal - honey (2010)
Semih Kaplanoglu
Turkey
100′
Six-year-old Yusuf has just begun attending primary school where he is learning how to read and write. His father, Yakup, is a beekeeper. He goes about his trade deep inside the woods where he hangs up his bee hives in the treetops of the highest trees. The mountain forest is a place of deep mystery to Yusuf and he derives great pleasure from accompanying his father there. One morning Yusuf tells his father about a dream he had the night before. Yakup turns on him curtly telling him never to share his dreams with others. The same day, Yusuf is asked to read out a text in front of the class. He suddenly begins to stutter and he is laughed at by the rest of the class. One day the bees suddenly disappear, throwing into question the family’s means of earning a living. Yakup decides to set off for the remote mountains. But no sooner has he left, than Yusuf stops speaking. His mother Zehra, who works on a tea plantation, suffers a great deal on ac count of her son’s sudden loss of speech, but is unable to persuade him to speak. The days pass - and still Yakup does not return. Mother and son begin to worry. Yusuf goes to his grandmother’s place in a neighbouring village where he spends the magical night during which the prophet’s arrival is celebrated. When he hears the story of the prophet he is convinced that his father, with whom he identifies the holy man, will come home again. Yusuf and his mother set off on a fruitless search for signs of his father’s whereabouts after which Yusuf decides to continue the search for his father on his own. His is a journey into the unknown. Will the dream he had be - come reality?
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Grain (2017)
Semih Kaplanoglu
Turkey
128′
What is it that the two men are after in Dead Lands in an indefinite near future? The global corporations have established cities and agricultural zones in areas where the climate is relatively good. These cities are populated by the elites, corporation’s executives, scientists, and those multiethnic immigrants who have been admitted after passing genetic compatibility tests. The immigrant masses struggle with hunger and epidemics. Professor Erol Erin (55), a seed genetics specialist, lives in a city protected from them by sophisticated armed forces and magnetic walls. For unknown reasons, the city’s agricultural plantations have been hit by a genetic crisis - and, as a result, by massive crop failure. In a meeting at the headquarters of the corporation which employs him, Erol learns of Cemil Akman (40), a fellow scientist. Apparently, Cemil wrote a thesis about the recurrent crisis affecting genetically modified seeds - but the work was banned by the corporation. Erol sets out to find Cemil and learn more about the thesis. He discovers that, after losing his wife and all of his scientific research in a suspicious fire, Cemil left the city and moved to Dead Lands, an almost uninhabitable place poisoned by chemical waste. Together with his assistant Andrei (30), Erol illegally crosses the magnetic walls in search of Cemil. Erol finds Cemil, who is searching for the remains of "life" in Dead Lands. But Cemil believes Erol will not survive the journey, nor be able to handle the truth he will find.
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On the Path (2010)
Jasmila Zbanic
Bosnia and Herzegovina
100′
Luna and Amar are a couple. Their relationship is under great strain. First of all, Amar loses his job for being drunk at work. Luna is very worried and has little hope of realising her fragile dream of having a child with Amar. But her fears for their future increase when Amar takes on a well-paid job in a Muslim community hours away from where they live.Only after quite some time has elapsed during which they have had no contact with each other, is Luna allowed to visit Amar in this community of conservative Wahhabis in its idyllic lakeside location. She notices that the men and veiled women live in strict segregation and are closely watched. Luna asks Amar to return home with her but Amar insists that life in this isolated community of faithful followers has brought him peace and also keeps him from drinking. When he returns home a few weeks later, Luna realises that Amar’s attitude to religion has fundamentally changed. Amar claims that his only interest is to become a better person, but Luna finds it extremely difficult to follow his line of thinking. She begins to question everything that she has believed in, even her desire to have a child. As the wounds of a tragic war-filled past continue to haunt her, Luna tears herself apart searching if love is truly enough to keep her and Amar together on the path to a lifetime of happiness.
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Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (2011)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey
151′
Life in a small town is akin to journeying in the middle of the steppes: the sense that "something new and different" will spring up behind every hill, but always unerringly similar, tapering, vanishing or lingering monotonous roads...
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The Wild Pear Tree (2018)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey
188′
Sinan is passionate about literature and has always wanted to be a writer. Returning to the village where he was born, he pours his heart and soul into scraping together the money he needs to be published, but his father’s debts catch up with him.
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Winter Sleep (2014)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey
196′
Aydin, a former actor, runs a small hotel in central Anatolia with his young wife Nihal with whom he has a stormy relationship and his sister Necla who is suffering from her recent divorce. In winter as the snow begins to fall, the hotel turns into a shelter but also an inescapable place that fuels their animosities...
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Yumurta - egg (2007)
Semih Kaplanoglu
Turkey
93′
Yusuf is a poet, trapped between countryside and big city, who returns to his small hometown after five years after receiving the news of the death of his mother. Ayla, a distant relative, awaits him in his now run-down home. He makes friends with Ayla and the mother's absence causes an argument with his own self.
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