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KARLOVY VARY 2016 Competition

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My Father's Wings: Desperate times, desperate measures


- KARLOVY VARY 2016: Turkish filmmaker Kivanc Sezer's drama tackles the dire fate of workers on a construction site, weighing up the price of human life and dignity

My Father's Wings: Desperate times, desperate measures

Turkish filmmaker Kivanc Sezer, who studied editing at the Cineteca di Bologna, unveiled his feature debut, My Father’s Wings [+see also:
interview: Kivanc Sezer
film profile
, as a world premiere in competition for the Crystal Globe at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The project won Sezer the Medienboard Co-Production Development Award in Meetings on the Bridge at the Istanbul International Film Festival and second place in the Directors Across Borders Project Development Workshop at the Yerevan Golden Apricot Film Festival.

Concrete and steel pervade almost every frame, as Sezer sets the story against the frenzy of construction in Istanbul. The lifeless and unfinished blocks tower over the city, as there are not enough workers to meet the developers’ rhythm in changing the urban landscape. Although the workers are constructing luxurious apartments, their reward is not at all that lucrative – irregular wages and life-threateningly undermined working conditions. Ageing worker Ibrahim labours to support his family, in spite of his deteriorating health. Their home was destroyed in a natural disaster, and they have to pay up for the substitute that was provided to them as victims.

Although Ibrahim’s fate forms the backbone of the film’s narrative, the story branches off in another two directions, after Ibrahim finds out the cause of his rapidly worsening health – lung cancer. One storyline follows ambitious young worker Yusuf, who harbours a clear vision regarding his future in the construction business, posing as a counterpoint to Ibrahim’s struggle. The third one depicts Resul, a foreman on Ibrahim and Yusuf’s construction site hell-bent on wrapping the works as soon as possible in order to more swiftly seize another profitable opportunity. Yusuf aims to replicate Resul’s professional success by ascending the ranks to foreman.

The three narrative strands represent different demographics and their status in contemporary Turkish society. Sezer encapsulates the urgent and current state of affairs in Turkey’s socio-economic framework, in which the working class is desperately underprivileged. He thus joins the current narrative discourse of recent Turkish cinema, as represented by award-winning films such as Ahu Ozturk’s Dust Cloth [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Ahu Öztürk
film profile
 and Musafa Kara’s Cold of Kalandar [+see also:
film profile
. Unlike Dust Cloth, however, he adopts the perspective of men as the breadwinners, exposed to the burden of this responsibility. This is painfully portrayed in the character of Ibrahim, who is on the brink of retirement, but is still missing the hefty sum required for him to do so. In the case of both Ibrahim and Resul, desperate times call for desperate measures, but the difference between them lies in the juxtaposition of Ibrahim’s need against Resul’s greed and the measures they will use – the self-destructive versus the illicit.

Sezer’s narration comprises two poles, individual and collective, addressing psychological and social issues in parallel, with dignity and the value of human life on one side, and inhuman working conditions and circumstances, and severe economical inequality and instability on the other. Cinematographer Joerg Gruber makes good use of the location, with vertigo shots balancing on the edges of the unfinished high-rise and carefully paced movement along the walls, increasing the tension and the anticipation of imminent tragedy.

My Father’s Wings was produced by Soner Alper for Turkish outfit Nar Film and co-produced by production company Istanbul Digital.

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