LIFF26 - Voice Of My Father - Cinema Review

'happens at the pace of a lazy river flow. Think the Romanian new wave and you're somewhere close'

A film which may well confuse those without at least a passing understanding of the history of the Kurdish population in Turkey, Voice Of My Father is an intriguing, if difficult and at times painfully slow, attempt to document a highly personal event without relying on typical documentary methods.

In the LIFF catalogue co-director Zeynel Dogan talks about the foreign nature of documentary making, how it often ignores the way people document life; through photographs and other mundane recording devices. Voice Of My Father sets out to dramatise Mehmet's (Dogan himself) memories of his past life, centring mainly on recordings made of his father and new conversations with his mother, Basê (his real-life mother, Basê) who seems distant and struggling with loss.

Eventually the film gets round to making its points about the forced displacement of Kurds in Turkey in the 1930s. Mehmet orders some new earth for his mother's garden and tells her that now she has 'got her soil', yet that fact does little to comfort her. The final third, where Mehmet and his mother return to their family home, sees the purest links to the past revitalised and some understanding and peace seem to arrive for Mehmet if not for Basê.

The problem is that all this happens at the pace of a lazy river flow. Think the Romanian new wave (say, Police, Adjective) and you're somewhere close. There are clear parallels in the natural shooting style with fellow Turkish film Once Upon A Time In Anatolia and, like that film, there's just too much content that adds little to the substance of the piece and a real failure to understand how an injection of Drama every so often is not only useful, but required.

It means that, whilst Dogan and director Orhan Eskikoy's style and approach is interesting, their execution is highly flawed and deeply un-involving. Several people leaving the LIFF screening remarked how they had 'started thinking about what was for dinner'. The failure here is not of intellectual engagement on their side but of interest generation on the part of the directors. Their aims are noble and the story true but the film-making needs tweaking.

The 26th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 1st November to 18th November at venues around the city. Programming includes several UK premières, the popular Night Of and Day Of The Dead and a selection of competition films in the Official Selection.

No comments:

Post a Comment