The Flying Brooms of Ankara

in 7th Flying Broom International Women's Film Festival

by Gönül Dönmez-Colin

The 7th Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival (6-16) presented ten films in competition in a special section called Each Has a Different Color. Nine out of these came from European countries, France leading the way with three entries. “Le Beau Temps Apres la Pluie” (Clear Skies After the Rain, 2003) by Nathalie Schmidt was a light musical comedy about love, life, dreams and disillusions. The tempo of the opening scenes captivated the audience but gradually became redundant. The message, if there was any, was somewhat ambiguous. The unstable and often violent relationship between the aspiring singer Rose Bonbon and her neurotic partner Roger was graphically displayed but the audience was left perplexed and confused as to her motivation for choosing abuse over tenderness.

“Les Marins Perdus” (Lost Seamen, 2003) by Claire Devers was based on the motif of the ‘suspended sailor’. Interestingly, or coincidentally, all ‘evil’ characters happened to be Muslims. The Lebanese captain was a murderer; Nedim the Turc was a half-wit rapist who violated his girlfriend to ensure that she would wait for him; then there were the pimps and the prostitutes… One could by-pass the strange accent of Nedim when he spoke Turkish, but sentences he uttered had nothing to do with the grammatical structure of that language.

The third film, which won the Fipresci award, “Il est plus facile pour un chameau” (It is Easier for a Camel, 2003) by Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, the first film of a well-known actress was well chosen for a women’s film festival. On one level, a socio-political commentary about the distribution of wealth in modern European society, the film also pointed at the factors (or forces) that hamper a woman’s intellectual and emotional development. Most of these were initiated by men- authoritarian fathers, irresponsible or self-centered lovers, indifferent and flippant colleagues and religious doctrine that lost contact with modern society. The understated performance of the director herself as the anti-heroine Federica was an important element in the success of this film.

A Belgium-Luxemburg co-production, Genevieve Mersch’s first film, “J’ai toujours voulu être une sainte” (I Always Wanted to be a Saint) was a serious film about the pains of entering adulthood in a society where family values are constantly re-evaluated. Most mothers in the film did not fulfill their ‘assigned’ duties as mothers, but Mersch made the audience think twice before passing judgment on anyone. Despite all the pain and suffering the film exposed, it managed to end in a rather upbeat mood but avoided the ‘happy end’.

From Germany, “Saniye’nin Tutkusu” (Saniye’s Lust, 2003-4), a film by Subiye V. Günar of Turkish origin recounted the story of a young Turkish woman, well-integrated into German society, who practically sabotaged her happiness with her obsession with motherhood. The film’s strongest point was the depiction of this obsession (remarkably acted out by Dil Üner, known for her Fatih Akin films). But the fact that the audience was left in the dark as to the emotional or psychological sources of this obsession was a drawback to identification with the character. The film seemed to suggest that it had something to do with her traditional Turkish background. Taken at face value, this was a simplistic and superficial explanation.

Turkish Yesim Ustaoglu’s third feature, “Bulutlari Beklerken” (Waiting for the Clouds, 2004) was based on the events of the expulsion of the Pontus Greeks from the Black Sea region of Turkey during World War I. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Jacek Petrycki, the film combined the elements of a lived and imagined past with pains of assumed and hidden identities reaching a climax in a highly charged confrontation.

The only non-European film of the competition was from Indonesia. Sekar Ayu Asmara’s first feature, “Biola Tak Berdawai” (The Stringless Violin, 2003), which combined the elements of traditional ‘wayang’ (puppet show) with a modern narrative in a melodramatic love triangle that involved a former ballerina, a disabled little boy and a young violinist in love with both.