Searching for elegies in ‘Future Lasts Forever’
Emrah Güler ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
A plot revolving around the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, along with a subplot on the burning topic of the Armenian relocation of the last century, could easily tread on the waters of propaganda, or become didactic. Promotional photoFor those who had watched “Sonbahar” (Autumn), the inspiring debut feature from director and writer Özcan Alper that was released two years ago, his next feature had become the source of some true anticipation.
In “Sonbahar,” Alper took the audience to the Black Sea region, where his hometown is, and told the heartbreaking tale of a political prisoner released after a sentence of 10 years. The film was beautifully shot with real characters, some played by local amateurs, grasping the audience at once from the screen.
For some, Alper was already a promising name with two bizarrely-titled documentaries: “Tokai City’de Melankoli ve Rapsodi” (Melancholy and Rhapsody in Tokai City) and “Bir Bilimadamıyla Zaman Enleminde Yolculuk” (Travels On Time Continuum with a Scientist), as well as the critically-acclaimed short film “Momi.”
Alper’s second feature “Gelecek Uzun Sürer” (Future Lasts Forever), the title an inspiration both from French philosopher Louis Althusser’s memoirs of the same name and a line from one of Turkish poet Murathan Mungan’s poems, hits theaters this week as a film that was well worth the wait.
The film begins with a quote from Italian writer and poet Cesare Pavese: “When the war ends one day, we have to ask ourselves this: What are we to do with the dead? Why did they die?” Part road trip movie, part lament to lost love and part political drama, the movie’s power to move mostly comes from its heartfelt look at the consequences of war on individual lives, mostly on women.
Compiling elegies and losses
The central character is Sumru (Gaye Gürsel), a young woman who travels from Istanbul to the southeastern city of Diyarbakır to research Anatolian elegies for her doctoral thesis. As she delves deep into her research, she talks to women who have lost their beloved ones to the Turkish-Kurdish conflict that has claimed thousands of lives in the last three decades.
Sumru’s journey becomes a harrowing one as she compiles losses along with elegies, facing her own loss, the broken relationship she had left behind in Istanbul. In Diyarbakır, she makes an unlikely friend from Ahmet (Durukan Ordu), a pirate DVD seller, a cinephile, and someone who has first-hand tales to tell of the war in the region.
Gürsel might seem like a wrong choice for the role of the bewildered woman from western Turkey, looking more like a character from a French film and looking totally out of place. But that seems to be the very reason why she was cast, hoping to exude a sense of alienation in the audience. As Sumru gets a feel of the individual stories of the war, so do we.
A plot revolving around the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, along with a subplot on the burning topic of the Armenian relocation of the last century, could easily tread on the waters of propaganda, or at least become didactic. Alper manages to distance his film from any political message or emotional drama that could easily have become the tone of the film. He manages this by shooting the interviews in a documentary style, with some real footage included into the film.
Alper knows the power of human stories and makes sure that nothing else does cloud the simple message relayed across through the first accounts of the war, the simple stories of loss. As the camera moves across the streets of Diyarbakır, Alper’s direction, along with the beautiful visuals of Feza Çaldıran, render the locations at once familiar yet painfully distant. It is impossible not to feel the sorrow, yet equally impossible to feel part of that tragedy. Just like Sumru herself.