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SARAJEVO 2015 Competition

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Entanglement: An ambiguous story hailing from primal myths


- The first feature film by Turkey's Tunç Davut, which world-premiered at Sarajevo, sets up universal symbols as the basis for an intimate story

Entanglement: An ambiguous story hailing from primal myths
Entanglement by Tunç Davut

Turkish writer-director Tunç Davut's first feature film, Entanglement [+see also:
interview: Tunç Davut
film profile
, is a story of two brothers divided by a woman, but it is also a study of the relationship between humans and nature, recounted at a slow pace that is in complete accord with the setting: a forest in the Anatolian mountains, near the Black Sea. The film world-premiered in competition at the Sarajevo Film Festival

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Kemal (Muhammet Uzuner) and Cemal (Baran Şűkrű Babacan) are two brothers, in their early 40s and late 20s, respectively. They live in a house on the edge of Anatolian woods, which they inherited from their father. Their mother died relatively recently – the film does not give any clear or easy answers to any part of its set-up, and this is one of its attractions. The characters work as seasonal forest workers, cutting trees for a contractor that is always late paying them. 

Tough and clear-minded Kemal, who spent 11 years in prison for an unspecified crime, brings home a woman from the nearby town, Nalan (Defne Halman), who quickly settles in. The brothers own some chickens and a huge Anatolian shepherd dog, which ran away before the story starts, but returns on his own. The dog is initially aggressive towards Nalan, but after Kemal beats him with a crowbar on the head and the woman heals his wounds, the two form an unexpected connection.

When Kemal goes to try and get the money out of the contractor, and Cemal and Nalan stay alone together, something happens between them, but this is presented ambiguously. Young, inexperienced and still idealistic Cemal suffers a great deal owing to the passing of their mother, and while there is a definite romantic/sexual tension between the two characters, it is hard not to also spot a potential mother figure in the older woman for the young man. 

Davut employs a very slow rhythm, with the protagonists talking much less than one would expect from a story set in one house and one barn. The atmosphere and exchanging of looks are the elements that give us an impression of their relationships, and also provide plenty of room for interpretation. 

Also, both the house and the barn have different connotations depending on what is happening within them at certain points and what the mood of the characters happens to be. The barn is intimidating when the dog is aggressive, but when Nalan holds his head tenderly in her lap, it is a place of comfort. The house seems cosy when all three are having dinner and drinks together, but when one of the characters is alone and troubled, the camera, as it slowly backs up from the open door, at a low angle, creates an almost horror-like feeling of tension and suspense, combined with the omnipresent sounds of the forest.

All this points to primal symbols and myths, the relationship between nature and humans, while the set-up of two brothers and their anger and jealousy harks all the way back to Cain and Abel. Davut has cleverly employed them to tell a local story that is turned universal through an ambiguous narrative in which one situation can have numerous different meanings.

Entanglement is a Tekhne Film production. 

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