Screened as part of NZIFF 2010
This year’s Berlin winner evinces remarkable identification with one child’s evolving view of the natural world. Though its Turkish mountain setting is set down for us in images of limpid, verdant majesty and we are given everything we need to appreciate the ties within the small forest community that holds him dear, this lovely film truly takes place on the soulful face of a six-year-old boy. Yusuf lives with his mother who picks tea and tends house, while his father harvests the honey of wild bees. There’s a single defining event, but it occurs quietly without warning while people are simply getting on with their uneventful lives.
Mostly we are watching Yusuf. Some things about him are touchingly obvious. We see how hopelessly he jockeys for approval at school and how jealously he loves his father, but he’s also a mystery to us, as he is to his parents. Why can he only read when no one is about? Why does he speak only to his father, and then only in whispers? Young Bora Altas is mesmerising in his ability to suggest a child’s magical thinking, enticing us to speculate what strange and wonderful notions about the world and his own impact on it are taking shape in that little head. — BG
“Kaplanoðlu gives us an enchanted maze, a many-coloured honeycomb, of the boy’s sentient life, from his slowly waking emotions (even to tragedy) to the intelligence articulations taking shape in school. Nature’s presence is everywhere, lyrically photographed. The central performance is touching, truthful and overpoweringly charming, one of those classic screen turns by a child, up there with The Kid and The Red Balloon.” — Nigel Andrews, Financial Times