The film "I Saw the Sun," Turkey foreign language entry for the 2010 Oscar, is a fascinating, moving film. The film opens with two young men fleeing the hills being tracked by army helicopters. Is this Iraq? Afghanistan? Palestine? Pakistan? None of the above.
The film is about Kurdish villagers living in Turkish Kurdistan caught up in the 30-year war between Kurdish guerillas seeking independance from Turkey and the Turkish army. The film centers about two families caught up in the violence. One family has three sons: one son is a guerilla up in the hills; the second has been in the Turkish army; and the third lost his leg to a landmine. In the second family the mother married when thirteen and has had five girls before she finally had a son. As the fighting between army and guerillas engulfs the village, the mother begins to develope stomach pains. The army forces the villages to leave to so they cab better fight the guerillas. The film is shot against the gorgeous hills and mountains of eastern Turkey so the beautiful scenery plays against the two family's suffering as they are put into army trucks to be forced out.
What is moving is the immense strength of Kurdish family life. Ramo (Helmer Mahsun Kirmizigul) and his family go to Istanbul, while Davut (Altan Erkekli) and his kin are smuggled to Norway. Davut's family has a horrible time being smuggled across borders and nearly suffocated in the back of a large truck but finally make it the uncle in Norway only to face deportation hearings by a Norwegian court. Ramo's family at first settles into an Istanbul apartment and is able to buy a washing machine but the mother is hospitalized leaving the father, his two brothers, and a blind grandfather to take care of 5 small children in a poor neighborhood in Istanbul. Despite these hardships the two Kurdish families maintain their strenght and cohesion--the film is a celebration of families.
The four girlchildren of Ramo's family are beautiful child actors. Their plight is that of millions of refugee children around the world. We follow the children into the bedrooms, the streets, the orphanages. The strength of this film is that it brilliantly brings us into the lives of villagers so we following the joys and hardships of refugee families. Of course, there are ups and downs of refguee families' lives like melodrama. The Norwegian court only stops its deportation order when staring at the youngest son's bombed off leg. Then the Norwegians as we the audience are moved to understand and to help. The film is a plea for peace to end this long-running war and a celebration of Kurdish family life. One needs these films to maintain one's humanity.
If you see one film this month, go see I Saw the Sun. Now playing in Los Angeles at the Fine Arts in Beverly Hills.
Causes Julia Stein Supports
Doctors Without Borders