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“How you tell a story is more important than the story itself”

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Tunç Davut • Director


- Entanglement by Tunç Davut had its world premiere in the Sarajevo Film Festival's official competition. Cineuropa met up with the director

Tunç Davut  • Director

Turkish writer-director Tunç Davut tells Cineuropa about the story of Entanglement [+see also:
film review
interview: Tunç Davut
film profile
, his first feature film, as well as his inspiration, his approach to filmmaking and the importance of philosophy.

Cineuropa: Where does the story come from?
Tunç Davut:
When I was working on a documentary in the Black Sea region, I met a woman who told me the story that became the basis for the film. I connected the story – the tale of a woman who came between two brothers and widened the gap between them – to a very old theme, the one of Cain and Abel. The fact that the story appears in every religion moves it away from being local and makes it universal. The story also comes out of my own cinematic world and my philosophical approach to life. 

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There is not a lot of dialogue in the film, and the atmosphere and visual style are very elaborate.
The film is set in the mountains of Anatolia, where people have a distinct lifestyle. They are more fatalistic and introverted. They don't speak much when it's not necessary. Also, the forest in the mountains has its own sound, and it's the sound of silence. The fact that these characters are introverted comes together with this silence, and it brings along its own narrative style.

To me, a story is not really that important. My primary concern is how to tell it, to create my own cinematic language. I tried to move away from conventional dramaturgy and avoid the cause-and-effect approach. I just showed basic parts of the story and wanted to leave the rest less clear. This is one of the most important elements of art in the 20th century – it's a kind of game. The audience has to activate their own insight, knowledge, ideas and culture, and complete the story themselves.

The relationship between the dog, Efe, and Nalan is very interesting. Initially he is aggressive towards her, but later they form a bond.
Efe is an Anatolian Shepherd. When these dogs are with their owners, they can be aggressive towards outsiders, especially when they enter their territory. When the dog gets beaten by Kemal, and is alone and helpless, he'll accept a person. That’s how it happens in Anatolia. These dogs are guards for their owners, but when they feel there is no threat coming from an outsider, they are not aggressive at all.

All the characters seem to be unhappy; they'd rather be somewhere else. And in spite of their relationships, they are all alone.
For Kemal, who is tough and has a realistic view of the world, the future is uncertain; there is no concrete dream of tomorrow, and all he can think of is how to save the day. There was a situation that got him into jail, maybe by accident, and his prison life has made him more harsh and alone.

Cemal, who has much less experience in life, is idealistic and more sensitive. He suffers a lot because of the death of his mother, and when another older woman comes into the house, he starts putting into practice some of the ideas that he got from his mother's view of the world – for instance, that animals should not be harmed. In his relationship with Nalan, there is probably also a bit of the Oedipus complex. 

And Nalan is trying to escape from her dark past. The future is also uncertain for her. She has lost her belief in life. She chooses to run away, dragging herself from place to place, searching for a harbour. She sees this harbour, and in a way, a saviour, in Kemal. But then she faces the nakedness of reality. 

This points to the sickness of despair. Of course, despair is not a sickness; sickness is used here in the sense of Søren Kierkegaard's The Sickness Unto Death, where he defines three different types of despair. The three characters in the film represent these types. Kierkegaard's philosophy is very important for my view of the world, and my approach to film and art in general. 

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