For The High Price Of Sin And Redemption

in 42nd Istanbul Film Festival

by Bojidar Manov

It is no coincidence that In the Blind Spot (Kör Noktada/Im toten Winkel, 2023) stands out among the 11 titles from the Turkish national selection at the 42nd Istanbul Film Festival (7-18 April 2023). And not because it was the only Turkish representative in the international competition or because it was already noticed by the press and professionals at the last (73rd) Berlinale. But because it immediately strikes a positive impression with its serious themes of various kinds of responsibility: first, of the entity to the everyday professional, and above all, moral responsibilities to the community and the family. And besides, it impresses with the mastered professionalism of the authors, mostly that of director and screenwriter Ayşe Polat (born 1970). But alongside her is the whole team behind and in front of the camera. And last but not least, their very well-protected professionalism gives the film undeniably spectacular qualities that, without abusing the audience’s taste, categorically maintain their interest in the screen narrative.

Moreover, Ayşe Polat already has the established and protected name of an undisputed professional in Turkish cinema and television. After a successful start with three short films (timely noticed by festival selectors and juries), in the space of 23 working years, she managed to make five feature films and two television series. They also add a positive rating to her national and international recognition with well-deserved honours from the screen at festivals in Tokyo, Nuremberg, Hamburg, and Ankara. But of course, the most important so far are: Most Promising Director at Ankara International Film Festival for Auslandstournee (2000) and Special Award the Jury for En Garde (2004); Silver Leopard for En Garde at Locarno and Nominee Encounters Award for In the Blind Spot at Berlinale 2023!

The blind spot in medicine is defined as a section of the retina of the eye where the image is lost and the individual does not perceive an image. The metaphorical parable in Ayşe Polat’s title is obvious: the blind spot in one’s morals and conscience is a devastating wound, the realization of which destroys the personality. And the need for redemption of sin and guilt always comes at a very high price! This moral thesis is consistently being built, as the plot develops and convincingly leads to the only logical final emphasis of the inevitable payoff! Because the circumstances of slowly accumulating guilt and transgressions against morals have only one—and cannot have any other—redemption than the heaviest retribution: the personal death of the individual and their closest people. But there still remains some hope, in the pure and perceptive wisdom of the daughter, which providence has ordained her. Her father, Zafer, works for a sinister organization and is caught between loyalty to them and fear for his family’s well-being, because his daughter appears to be haunted by a mysterious force. And the fateful attendance of father’s colleagues develops a destructive power. The film unravels a complex net of conspiracy, paranoia, and generational trauma.

Without a doubt, the child Çagla Yurga (born 2011) in the role of the little girl Melek is an amazing find for the film and an extremely accurate choice of the director Ayse Polat! Moreover, the name Melek is symbolic and means ‘Angel’ in translation! This central part is Çagla Yurga’s second appearance after the TV series Evlilik Hakkinda Her Sey (2021). If in the future cinema does not waste this extraordinary child by willingly using her with small parts in banal films, she undoubtedly has a bright future as an actress. Cinema loves such highly concentrated, clearly legible, but also high-profile faces on the screen! And alongside the child in the development of the screen plot, many good professionals are present such as the actors Ahmet Varli, Aybi Era, Nihan Okutucu, Aziz Çapkurt, etc. The experienced cinematographer Patrick Orth (31 films) undoubtedly has his share in this dramatic thriller.

Finally, In the Blind Spot focuses, in a very attractive way, on the moral conflict of man’s everyday behaviour and his most important personal values.

Bojidar Manov
Edited by Savina Petkova