Tuesday, April 18, 2017
7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Director: Onder Kiziltan
Turkish with English subtitles
Humble and devout Muharrem lives in a solitary and meager existence of prayer and sexual abstinence. His extraordinary devotion attracts the attention of the Sheikh of an Istanbul Sufi order who offers him an administrative post as a manager for the seminary properties that support a school for orphans and poor children. Muharrem's new job throws him into the modern outside world he has not experienced before. He soon witnesses conflicting attitudes and dilemmas towards alcohol, charity and honesty. He notices that he himself has become proud, domineering and even dishonest. To make matters worse, Muharrem's inner peace is unnerved by the tormenting image of a seductive woman who tempts him in his dreams, both night and day. With the balance of his devotion now upset, his fear of God begins to eat away at his senses. He remains steadfast seeking forgiveness from Allah and guidance from his Sheikh in whom he has complete faith.
The Sheikh is portrayed as evidence of how power can corrupt. Throughout the story the Sheikh guides Muharrem on the mystical path, however, Muharrem is confused by the Sheikh's uncharitable insistence that rent is collected from everyone, even those who cannot pay. When Muharrem faces his greatest spiritual crises, the Sheikh, being on retreat, is unavailable to counsel him.
However, it is possible as seeing the actions of the Sheikh as pushing his fuqarat (student) beyond his comfortable monastic boundaries. The teacher may have given Muharrem this test to help him to grow and as a test of his character. There is a saying along the lines of 'Money will reveal a person's true character, if they are generous, they will be more so, if they are greedy, it will be apparent'. Muharrem, at first, is fair with money. He has compassion for the family that cannot pay their rent. When he is pushed by the Sheikh to collect from everyone, even those who cannot pay, a shift happens as he is faced with the crisis of following his inner voice and the directions of his beloved Sheikh.
The film ends with him experiencing an excellently portrayed crisis of spirit, driven by his inner piousness clashing against the jarring change he sees in himself, brought upon by his new job that thrust him unprepared into the modern world. He ends up catatonic in bed, being cared for by the Sheikh's daughter, yet completely oblivious to her presence.
2006 Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival: Best Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Music, Best Screenplay, Lab Competition, Make-Up, Special Jury Award
2007 Asia Pacific Screen Awards: Best Actor (also nominated for Best Feature Film and Best Screenplay)
2007 Berlin International Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize
2007 Geneva Film Festival: Best Actor
2007 Istanbul International Film Festival: Best Film
2007 Nuremberg Film Festival "Turkey-Germany: Best Actor
2007 Sarajevo Film Festival: Heart of Sarajevo (Best Picture), Jury Prize (Best Film)
2006 Toronto International Film Festival: Innovation Award
2007 Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival: EurAsia Grand Prix
Part of the Turkish Film Series. In partnership with the Brown University Film Forum