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Review: Snow and the Bear


- Selcen Ergun delivers a dark tale blinded by the whiteness of the snowy landscapes of a Turkish village locked in the outdated traditions of an endless winter

Review: Snow and the Bear
Merve Dizdar in Snow and the Bear

Snow and the Bear [+see also:
interview: Selcen Ergun
film profile
, the first feature by Turkish director Selcen Ergun, presented in world premiere in the Discovery section at Toronto and now winner of the Cineuropa Award at the Brussels Mediterranean Film Festival, asks itself a question: of what could bears be guilty of? Asli (Merve Dizdar), a young city nurse, is sent for a compulsory service to a small isolated village, in the farthest reaches of Turkey, a place that seems asleep in an endless winter. A thick layer of snow covers the souls as well as the lands. But under the snow, unspeakable secrets hibernate, which plant doubt and suspicion in the villagers. While naming the culprit(s) could well bring down many supposedly honest citizens, the bears stand out as the perfect atoning culprits for all.

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We quickly understand that Asli doesn’t have to be there; her father, who doesnt accept her decision, has offered and still offers to find her a job elsewhere, closer to the city, far from this mysterious community where dissent is rife. Arriving in the hamlet like a hair in the soup, she casts her sharp foreign eye on the habits of the villagers, steeped in patriarchal traditions. She will try to integrate herself amongst these silent families, doing her best to help them, offering her medical knowledge despite some reticence. But while the worrisome shadow of the bears that are said to have come out of hibernation very hungry during the abnormally long winter hangs over the village, the disappearance of one of the pillars of the community will exacerbate tensions and awaken resentments. But aren’t the villagers a little too quick to sell the skin of the bear and blame it for Hassan’s murder?

Snow and the Bear begins like a horror film – a young woman alone runs into a stranger after a car accident on a deserted and snowy road –, evokes fairy tales with its title and its mysterious forest, and asks for a more metaphorical and political reading with its catchphrase: “To all those who hope for the fall of this endless winter.” This endless winter is the one that suffocates the village, but also the one that falls like a leaden curtain on Turkish women, confined and oppressed, like Asli and her peers. This hushed drama, in which feelings are boiling up, contained but ready to explode at any moment, portrays the determination of a character caught in a whirlwind of internal struggles and power games, who will find her inner strength to overcome the obstacles.

Snow and the Bear was produced by Nefes Films and Albino Zebra Films in Turkey, and co-produced by Riva Film in Germany and Set Sail in Serbia. International sales are handled by ArtHood Entertainment.

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(Translated from French)

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