Middle East Studies

Film | Araf, 2012 (Somewhere in Between)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

7:00pm – 9:00pm

Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute

Refreshments will be provided.

Director: Yeşim Ustaoğlu
Turkey, 124 minutes
Turkish with English subtitles

In The Capacity to be Displaced: Resilience, Mission, and Inner Strength (Brill, 2017), Clemens Sedmak writes, “One of the most fundamental experiences of displacement is experiencing imprisonment.” Sedmak elaborates on the idea that prison is a context of severe displacement. In time, displacement transforms a person’s identity, her search for a place in life. Araf is a film that manifests this idea: it is a film about Zehra, Olgun and Mahur’s sense of imprisonment at two places and yet belonging to neither of them. The protagonists almost feel in a state of limbo. Araf is exactly translated into English as “limbo.” Everything seems transient about their surroundings. Caught somewhere in between the past and an uncertain future, Zehra and Olgun want to create change in their lives but there are obstacles. The once important industrial area is now a faceless place of economic waste and unemployment. Most of the area's occupants have all escaped to the big city in search of opportunity.

Zehra and Olgun spend most of their young lives working in a service station cafeteria near a lonely highway. Their monotonous work shifts are broken up only by sparks of naive expectations of a brighter future. Zehra dreams that love will take her away from her meaningless job and life at home with her strict old-fashioned mother. She becomes fascinated by an older truck driver, Mahur, who spends much of his time on the road. As Zehra's desire for Mahur turns into a tragic first love, her rebellious friend Olgun becomes more and more frustrated, stuck at home, not yet a young man on his own. Zehra and Olgun will experience a bittersweet rite of passage, leading to both suffering and awakening. But as they say goodbye to their childhood innocence, love and hope will help them to move forward.