Thursday, June 13, 2024

Köprüdekiler / Men on the Bridge, in the presence of Asli Özge

Asli Özge: Köprüdekiler / Men on the Bridge (TK 2009).

Bosporin sillalla (TV title, 13 Nov 2017).
COUNTRY: Turkey, Germany, The Netherlands
YEAR: 2009
DURATION: 87 min
LANGUAGES: Turkish, subtitled in English
CATEGORY: Aslı Özge, Special Guests' Films, Subtitles in English
In the presence of Asli Özge, in English.
Viewed at Lapinsuu, Sodankylä, Midnight Sun Film Festival (MSFF), 13 June 2024

Otto Kylmälä (MSFF 2024): " Three men work near the Bosphorus bridge. The bridge that links Europe and Asia also connects the men whose lives barely interject. Teenager Fikret sells flowers illegally to motorists, lonely policeman Murat searches the internet for a girlfriend, and Umut tries to balance his low-paid minibus job with the demands of his wife Cemile. The couple try to find a bigger apartment, but Istanbul’s rising prices and Cemile’s demands are out of sync, putting a strain on their marriage. "

" In addition to the bridge, the men are united by their longing for money and love, which represent a better life and spiritual balance in the middle of congested Istanbul. Yet nothing in the stories feels tacked on, as they are strongly rooted in the lives of the characters, mostly men playing themselves. "

" Aslı Özge’s award-winning debut film began as a documentary project but became a fiction film when the director was not allowed to film real police officers. Like Jafar Panahi’s Mirror (1997), which switches from fiction to documentary in the middle of the film, Özge’s hybrid of the two genres grows to unpredictable heights. The result is a charming neorealist work with a greater empathy for its characters than either documentary or fiction could separately achieve. " Otto Kylmälä

AA: The location in Asli Özge's Men on the Bridge is the Bosphorus Bridge.

All allegorical interpretations are meaningful, starting from the obvious one about Turkey, a country that belongs both to Asia and to Europe, to the Islamic world and the Christian tradition. But associations fly back to Homer and Herodotus.

Main characters include illegal rose sellers and policemen patrolling the bridge. Both are marginalized. Both struggle to make ends meet. The policemen have a hard time with the frustrating dating scene.

Asli Özge sees the Bosphorus Bridge with visionary eyes. It is an epic sight at all times, also during rainstorms and traffic jams, and most impressively on the National Day - the Republic Day (Cumhuriye Bayrami) on 29 October, celebrating the republican constitution of 1923 when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk declared the Republic of Turkey. It is a popular feast in which everybody can feel proud and important. The crowds are magnificent, the fireworks fabulous.

The visual experience is engaging both in handheld subjective camera shots and in magnificent compositions in depth.

The end credits tune is a rap by Ceza. I wish I knew the title and the lyrics also in translation.

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