"Times and Winds": Images for both the heart and the mind By Antti Selkokari

in 25th Istanbul International Film Festival

by Antti Selkokari

What is really striking about with Reha Erdem’s Times and Winds (Bes vakit) is its refusal to be explained. All it does is to invite us to look again, closer. To look at the world and its beauty with eyes we never thought we had.

The film is set in a small village that leans on high cliffs, facing the vast sea, its outskirts laced with olive groves. The village inhabitants live according to the rhythm of nature and the five daily calls to prayer. The central characters are three children on the brink of adolescence. The film follows the children and their interaction with their parents and a school teacher. One of the children wishes for the death of his father, who happens to be the imam of the village.

The boys in the film are shown to be bound by their religion. A strong contrast to the cultural ties is school: the place of reason and enlightenment. From the beginning of the film one can see the bipolarities abound; the images of the lush Turkish landscape are accompanied by western classical music. The music, Orient and Occidentby Arvo Pärt, emphasizes this duality even more. Yet in this piece of art, the music and images lyrically converge.

Erdem does not shy away from Islam. Abrahamic religions are present here and that’s what makes the film even more universal. Times and Winds does not have to be seen as a religious film, but as a spiritual one. It is the inner life that Erdem is concerned with here. Times and Winds is about growing up; into the film are cut sole pictures of children lying somewhere in the woods hidden under weeds or on a bed of rocks. It seems as if these children are asleep. Maybe they are in the sleep of childhood. At the end, a boy wakes up to full consciousness and the burden of adulthood, which he realizes is crushing.

It would be rather fruitless to pin down all the possible influences in Times and Winds, since nobody, not even Tarkovski or Kiarostami, has a copyright on slow camera movement. And the consistent shooting on children’s eye-level could be seen as a friendly nod to Gus van Sant’s Elephant.

However, I would not want to ruin Erdem’s life and career by calling him a master too early. So many genuine talents are burnt out too fast. The rage with which the media devours the new masters, never gives them time to mature.

Times and Winds proves Erdem has the talent and ability to become a master. But we have only seen the first inklings.