Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Oslo Diaries

Directed by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan (2018)
Featured in the Boston Jewish Film Festival’s Summer Cinemateque

This eye-opening film by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan tells the story of Israel and the PLO’s peace negotiations in Norway during the early to late 1990s. It integrates historic footage, film actors reenacting the talks, and recent interviews with the real-life participants, such as Israel’s then foreign minister Shimon Peres and the PLO’s chief negotiator Abu Ala. The interviewees’ passion for their experience hammering out acceptable terms of peace is palpable, as is their current sadness for the accords’ ultimate failure. The film’s structure also includes voice-over readings from the politicians’ diaries, adding a thoughtful, personal touch to the documentary.
The story of the Oslo accords involves the complicated history of Israel vs. the Palestinians—seen differently from each side—which many Americans will need to follow-up on after seeing this movie. But the history isn’t essential to gaining the filmmakers’ two main points about the experience of the accords. First, when rounds of negotiations take place between countries that are archenemies, it is individuals, not nations, who interact during those countless days of talks. A strange, inarticulate “humanization” of the mutual hatred takes place, as the participants slowly learn about each others’ families and personal lives. Nevertheless, as one interviewee reflects, “It’s impossible to translate this humanization to the public.” And so, the several stages of the Oslo peace agreements meet with virulent controversy from conservatives on both sides, with more violence breaking out, including the Hebron mosque massacre and Rabin’s assassination.
The movie makers’ second emphasis is the effect of Netanyahu’s intolerant political platform that precludes any chance of peace during his leadership. The film’s footage of his vitriolic speeches over the years portrays him as a demagogue. The audience, having experienced the “human side” of the talks, feels sickened at his destructive force. Like the negotiators, we have come through the years of talks believing both sides of the conflict can achieve better understanding and coexistence in the future.
The Oslo Diaries is moving. It shows us—again, through our own involvement in the talks—how hatred can slowly dissolve through rounds of communication between mutually trusting, respecting people. But, if politicians not involved in the “humanizing, peace-seeking component” deliver thundering speeches to the contrary that sway the less-informed public, then nothing toward neighborly peace can be achieved. The movie makes you wonder: What if Netanyahu had participated in the years of talks?
           The film more or less ends with Rabin’s assassination by a Jewish extremist and Netanyahu spewing from the podium anti-Palestinian slogans. The audience leaves the theater feeling the defeat, as well as the sad truth that diametric forces are always present in societies, ensuring that wars and violence will never end. Who will watch this movie? It’s doubtful those who could benefit from its message about the power of negotiations for world peace. In the meantime, generations keep passing.

Memoir of War (La Douleur)

Directed by Emmanuel Finkiel (2017)
Featured in the Boston Jewish Film Festival’s Summer Cinemateque

This beautifully wrought adaptation of Marguerite Duras’s war memoir, with Mélanie Thierry playing Duras, explores the human mind when waiting day after day, month after month, year after year, for news of a family member deported to a Nazi concentration camp. When the war ends, the waiting goes on, as trains bring back survivors but never the loved one.
This debilitating state of waiting happens to the protagonist Marguerite, who waits for her husband Robert, arrested for his resistance activities. It also happens to Mrs. Katz, boarding with Marguerite, who waits for her handicapped daughter, even after she learns the Nazis sadistically eliminated “cripples.”
Marguerite keeps a diary of her mental state while waiting for Robert, and her surreal feelings, verging on madness and spoken in voice-over, parallel the camera’s imagery, which blurs with illusion, delusion, and hallucination. The background music becomes cacophonous, and we the audience physically experience the mind’s demise into disconnection to the living world, as a result of unmitigated waiting and fear. The film’s crowning achievement is how the camera, sound, and scripting mirror the person’s interior world when severed from reality and relationships. The long silences with just Marguerite’s face on the screen (always smoking in deep reflection), convey the depth of her psychic pain, which includes fear for her own life. Many observations about the war and anti-Semitism intersperse the film, as well as a plot involving a French cop working for the Germans, but the film’s poetic essence is its study of human emotions.
One small criticism: the film’s ending comes as a jolt and lacks clarity, particularly when Marguerite’s earlier, delirious vision of a newborn baby reemerges as a truth in the final scene and without adequate explanation. Additionally, when Marguerite tells Robert (who barely survives Dachau) that “I want a divorce, I want Dionys baby, nothing has changed in two years,” more confusion arises. All through the movie Marguerite’s been waiting for Robert’s return—it’s the entire study of the movie—although we do wonder at times about her relationship to Dionys, a fellow resistance worker. So, to hear her say she wants a divorce and Dionys baby, and nothing has changed in two years, suggests that before Robert was dragged off to Dachau, Marguerite wanted a divorce in order to be with Dionys. This muddled ending doesn’t quite fit the story we’ve been so deeply a part of—waiting with Marguerite for her beloved Robert to survive the war. It may be that Duras’s memoir sheds light on these last details.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

12 Days

Directed by Raymond Depardon (2017)
At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Annual French Film Festival, July 13 & 14

Special to the Boston City Paper by Joseph Spilsbury

This beautifully captured documentary film by Raymond Depardon was truly sad to watch. I felt a deep empathic emptiness, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, like how I imagine the patients must feel as they take their turns sitting before the judge, again and again, accompanied by lawyers, and getting shut down each time. Not one is released, and many have been locked up for months or years. I felt more striking sadness watching this film than I do on a daily basis working as a therapist at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. Having worked at one of the only remaining Massachusetts state hospitals for one year, as well as two private acute inpatient psychiatric hospitals since, there is much to compare between how things are dealt with clinically and legally.
For one, the patients in the film are locked up for 12 days (that is a long initial time frame) before they even have the right to see a judge and present their case; and as the film portrays, they seemingly are always kept for further evaluation and treatment. The judge already knows the verdict, though still asks the patients, and their lawyers, for their thoughts, before deliberating the conclusions that the psychiatrists have already made beforehand. In the film, not one patient is released during this court-like process. The torment is palpable.
Here in Boston, and in the State of Massachusetts, almost all patients are brought to inpatient hospitals on a Section 12, which can be done by a police officer, social worker, or psychiatrist. This section implies that the person is a danger to themselves or others: that they have likely attempted suicide, had an overdose, threatened to take their life to a family member, or maybe discussed the idea or a plan with a therapist; or simply stated it at the wrong time and place, oftentimes under the influence. A Section 12 is basically one of two things, suicidal ideation or homicidal ideation, and it is usually in the hands of the police to make the judgement call and get the person to an ER for a clinical evaluation.
Under a Section 12, once a person gets to the psychiatric hospital, they have three days (one quarter of the length of time shown in the French hospital in the film) before they have to sign a “conditional voluntary,” stating they will work with the treatment team, comply with medications, go to group therapy, and meet with their social worker to figure out a plan for discharge. This can be an extremely complicated process, and messy. The majority of patients retaliate against treatment and sign a “three-day notice,” because they do not want to be kept locked up; they often want to leave immediately. The patients have the option to “rescind” their three-day notice and sign the conditional voluntary; but if they don’t, then the psychiatrist is bound by law to take them to a court commitment hearing, which if they lose (oftentimes the case), they are legally bound to the hospital for up to six months—and if they don’t get discharged before that allotted time, they are sent to a state hospital.
12 days is a long time to wait before hearing any judgment on an individual’s case. The average total length of stay at my hospital is about two weeks. Some come in and out in a few days or a week, some a few more weeks, and occasionally we have a treatment-resistant person who ends up living in our walls for months on end. In the three years I have worked at my current hospital, I have seen only three patients stay the entire six months and get transferred to a state hospital.
With the demographic I work with, racially and ethnically diverse, though a generally low socio-economic status, many people come from very complex traumatic backgrounds, have experienced physical and sexual abuse from a young age, grew up in gangs or with violence on the streets, and in many cases, have significant criminal backgrounds. Though we are not a licensed “dual diagnosis” unit, still 80–90 percent of all patients I encounter are addicts, and many are poly-substance abusers. A decent percentage are homeless, with no roof over their heads on the outside, with nowhere to go, which makes the job of the social workers challenging.
We try to set up a safe discharge plan and get them out of the hospital as soon as they are stable and can care for themselves. This is the ideal, but it is not sustainable. Mental illness is chronic, and unless individuals are aware and in full acceptance of their condition, they will likely be noncompliant with treatment as soon as they are released. We try our best from a multidisciplinary team approach, with the medications and the therapy; and the social workers often set up further “step-down” treatment options, at various types of outpatient programs, clinics, and rehabilitation centers, in which the patients can attend groups and have structure during the day, continue with their medication regiment, but be free in the evenings. Sadly, too often, we can’t get an outpatient program to accept a patient, or vice-versa (the patient won’t comply, or quits after a few days), and many people unfortunately go straight to homeless shelters; basically back where they came from.
In more than three years at one hospital, I have seen countless faces return—three, four, five times, in some cases more, and that is just on my unit, one of six. Sometimes these individuals walk out the door and are back in a few days or weeks. I look into every patient’s record that I work with, and some have had 40, 50, 60 “episodes,” or inpatient stays, just at my hospital alone. We call it the “revolving door.” These patients are “in the system” for life. They are even sometimes referred to as “professional patients.”
So, while the legality and structure of the hospital care in the United States, or in Massachusetts, is different from France’s system, it is not necessarily better or worse. We try our best to get patients stable, so they can leave, but the support system and safety net is not systemically strong enough yet, and it often feels hopeless and helpless in the same way the film portrayed patients being locked up.
One noticeable difference, from a humanitarian perspective, was the sterility of the hospital in the French documentary—almost as if no life existed between the walls and behind closed doors. It looked and felt like a prison, a holding cell. Where were the patients? Where were the groups? The treatment? The doctors? Or is it just a holding cell? At my hospital, it is a bustling ecosystem, with 24 patients on a single unit, sometimes 6, 8, or 10 attending each of my four therapy groups per day. They go downstairs as a unit for three meals a day (unless unit restricted), and they go outside to the courtyard as a group twice a day. We have music therapy, art therapy, occupational therapy, and activity groups, as well as a front day-room with a kitchen, and a back day-room, and two TVs (turned off during group therapy), and a sensory room, and a quiet room. Not that this presents a “normal” or “free life” for them, but in contrast, the film portrayed no life inside the walls of the Edouard Herriott Hospital. It was slightly disturbing. I’ll say it again, it gave me a feeling of deep emptiness, a striking sadness, that these poor patients have nothing to live for and keep getting shot down every single time they go before the judge. It’s like a sadistic joke by the end of the film. At least in my experience working inpatient, I have seen many (even if a small percentage) beat the psychiatrist in their court commitment hearings. I am sometimes secretly rooting for them, even though I am on the same treatment team as the doctor. Sometimes the system inevitably feels sick.

Joseph Spilsbury is a clinical mental health counselor and music therapist and works as a group therapist at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. He is a multi-instrumentalist and composer, as well as the co-founder and guitarist of the local Boston band, Miele ( He is on the board of the Massachusetts Music Therapy Alliance (MMTA).

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Beauty and the Dogs

Directed by Kaouther Ben Hania

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, June 15–17
New films from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, and Algeria
Visit for the schedule 

Beauty and the Dogs takes us through one hellish night of a young rape victim, Mariam (Mariam Al Ferjani). Her odyssey—a living nightmare—floors us not only with her reality, but also with what we ourselves ignore when such heinous actions don’t touch our lives personally. Set in Tunisia’s criminal justice system, the film’s message pertains to the world, for everywhere on earth police forces, courts, and governments can’t be relied on to uphold right from wrong. We witness in Beauty and the Dogs a pandemic societal sickness: the dishonesty, bullying, intimidation, violence, and trauma inflicted on anyone who can’t “afford justice.” Hypocrisy, chicanery, and inhumanity rule the law.
Bright, fun-loving Mariam organizes a dance at her college in Tunis. Her prim, high-collared dress for the party tears, so her friend Naila lends her a low-cut, satin-blue, slinky dress that Mariam reluctantly puts on, as she’s a fairly abiding Muslim woman. The two friends leave the changing room and enter the low-lit, music-filled party, with men and women dancing and flirting. Mariam immediately notices an attractive man, Youssef (Ghanem Zrelli), who also notices her.
Beauty and the Dogs is based on a true story published as a novel in 2013, titled Guilty of Having Been Raped. Following the format of a book, the film develops in chapters, starting with the party, and with subsequent episodes moving through a nightmarish maze of Tunis’s private and public hospitals and its police stations, as Mariam tries to press charges for her rape. Instead of being helped by doctors and police, she’s turned away because those people who could (and should) help her fear for their own safety, or, in the case of the police, they’re criminal and will find reasons to arrest Mariam rather than their cohorts. It’s the verisimilitude of Mariam’s terrifying odyssey that penetrates the viewer with the reality of our world’s morality. The movie’s title suggests “beauty” stands for life and “dogs” for human beings.
Youssef, Mariam’s new boyfriend, whom the police handcuff in order to rape her, faces the same brutality as Mariam, making the movie not solely about a Muslim woman’s plight, but about people in general—the regular people and the minorities who face treachery and ridicule when they seek justice. An elder policeman at the station, Chedly, witnesses repeatedly his younger colleagues’ transgressions and ultimately stands up for right over wrong, again, showing us that not all men are the vile creatures we’re treated to in this movie—and they are very, very bad. Kudus to the actors taking on such depraved roles.
Mariam, though helped initially by Youssef until he’s carted off to jail on false charges, faces an unimaginable ordeal after just being raped. Her face and mechanical way of walking show her trauma. It’s hard to imagine how she carries on after each door closes on her, leaving her alone with the demons chasing her down. Ever onward she stumbles, insisting she’ll bring the perpetrators to trial.
The most powerful scene in Mariam’s odyssey is when she decides to call her father. She realizes that in order to press charges her story will go public and her family will find out about her “disgrace.” Mustering once more remarkable courage, this young college student calls her father and asks him to please come to the station as fast as possible, “because these people are frightening me.”
The insanity of the night finally ends, and Mariam steps out of the station into daylight, a seemingly more rational world. But the air is heavy, clouded, unresolved. Her difficult future lies ahead—the work, the sacrifice of life, to prove how justice is synonymous with bad guys, crooks, corruption. Her story has deeply penetrated us. Do we get up, go home, and forget this movie, or do we remember it and take action?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Prince and the Dybbuk (2017) and The Dybbuk (1937)

The National Center for Jewish Film's 21st Annual Film Festival, May 2–13, 2018
The Prince and the Dybbuk (2017), dir. Piotr Rosolowski and Elwira Niewiera
The Dybbuk (1937), dir. Michał Waszyński
May 6, 2:00 and 4:00, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

These two films—the first a documentary related to the second, which is based on Yiddish theater—screen back to back and should be seen together if possible.

Waszyński, 1930
The Prince and the Dybbuk (2017) and The Dybbuk (1937) are chock-full of complexities that might take more than one viewing of each to fully appreciate. Shot in black-and-white, The Dybbuk surely ranks among film classics, partly for its Yiddish theater legacy. It also embodies a dimension related to the personal life of its director, “Prince” Michał Waszyński (1904–1965), that would not be known were it not for the The Prince and the Dybbuk interpreting the material.
Waszyński, an aristocratic and admired filmmaker from his young adulthood until his death, hid his shtetl and yeshiva beginnings in Kovel, Ukraine, not only from the world but also from himself, as those early memories bore too much pain. The haunting images we’re shown from both his past life in Kovel and his post–World War II life in Italy involve his repressed homosexuality that may have prompted  his early flight to Warsaw and then Berlin, as well as his conversion to Catholicism and his name change from Moshe Waks to Michał Waszyński.
Later, memories of the Holocaust and murder of his family and friends increasingly break through Waszyński’s efforts to forget, leading to intolerable psychic pain, made worse by his inability to share his story with others, not even with his adopted family in Rome, the Dickmanns. However, one does wonder if just after the war he might have revealed his past to the older, humanitarian Italian countess, Dolores Tarantini, who helped him, married him, and promptly died, leaving him her fortune and palace in Rome.
The Prince and the Dybbuk uses traditional documentary techniques to piece together Waszyński’s life, but it also takes off creatively for many of its segments, integrating archival film footage of shtetl life, which complement voice-over memories from Waszyński’s diary. A particularly painful scene shows the Kovel synagogue today, first from the outside and then within, where the central cavity under the square dome has become a clothing factory. A Kovel survivor tells us how the Germans locked the town’s Jews, including the Waks family, in the synagogue. There, waiting to be killed, they wrote last messages on the walls. Archival stills show us individual faces—faces that could easily be your own family members’ faces no matter what your religious background. These captive faces are trying to make sense of being imminently killed. Voice-overs simultaneously speak the lines we assume were written on the synagogue walls. It’s a difficult moment in the film—incomprehensible pending murder—and yet, its reality is exactly what Waszyński couldn’t erase from his memory.
The documentary links Waszyński’s obsession with his film The Dybbuk to his own life, and integrates a mystical cemetery scene from the film. Waszyński’s diary toward the end of his life reveals how he’s tormented by a dybbuk who has possessed him. The film interprets this spirit as a yeshiva student Waszyński might have loved, forcing his flight from Kovel, his change of identity, and his inconsolable grief over the Nazi genocide.

Lili Liliana and Leon Liebgold in The Dybbuk, 1937

One of the documentary’s most shocking scenes is of the Battle of Monte Cassino, which Anders’ Polish army fought with the Allies. Waszyński was the troop’s filmmaker and recorded the cataclysmic bombing, its towering clouds of smoke, and the ancient monastery’s destruction. The army went on to liberate Rome, where Waszyński’s life and career came to settle.
Even without the insights and enrichments of Rosolowski and Niewiera’s documentary, Waszyński’s The Dybbuk stands alone as a film classic. Besides capturing with beauty and perfection a lost culture—Eastern Europe’s shtetl life and yeshiva study—it also preserves traditional Yiddish theater and folklore or mythology. The film is based on S. Ansky’s 1914 play of the same name. Its structure resembles Greek drama, and its story is a parable. The sets, action, acting, and cultural atmosphere filled with religious music all contribute to an outcome of extraordinary film art that shares an aesthetic with Orson Welles.

Etching by Ephraim Moses Lillien (1874–1925). In Jewish mythology, a dybbuk is the evil spirit of a dead person that possesses another person. In The Dybbuk, a young shtetl woman is possessed by the spirit of the man she was to marry but her father rejected.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Sour Apples (Ekşi Elmalar)

Written and directed by Yilmaz Erdoğan
Featured March 30 & April 8 at the 17th Annual Boston Turkish Film Festival
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Sour Apples is a modern-day Shakespearean comedy written and directed by Yilmaz Erdoğan, who also stars in it as Hakkâri’s vain and overbearing mayor. It’s 1977, and the mayor has just lost his election to a third term, but until his dying day he will remain “the mayor,” severe and unsmiling, dressed in tailored clothes, and driven about by his manservant, Yusef.
We know this is a lighthearted comedy from the opening’s fun, farcical music, which also plays between scenes. It’s snowing outside at the mayor’s house, which sits in front of a jagged mountain peak in southeastern Turkey. Inside the dusky parlor, men listen to the election results with their candidate seated before them as if on a throne. They kiss his hand as they leave, expressing regret for his loss.
Turkey’s turbulent politics of the 1970s and 80s thread through the background of this heartwarming love story, narrated by the mayor’s youngest daughter Muazzez. She recalls the family’s past to her aged father, who can no longer silence or punish her for what she tells him because he has Alzheimer’s. We hear how her city was known for two things: the mayor’s apple orchards and the mayor’s daughters.
And oh, what daughters!—Türkan, Safiye, and Muazzez. Their adolescent beauty, flowing dresses and tresses, laughter and gaiety, and conniving plots to get the men they want rather than their father’s choices, launch the movie in its Shakespearean vein. The character Sino carries letters and messages between the illicit lovers; the grotesque, traveling merchant, Etar, brings gossip to the women; and lovable, blundering Hatip, in love with Safiye, can be counted on for laughter.
The women’s lives are so restricted that Muazzez hasn’t learned to read or write, and yet this distressing state of women is treated in a parodic way, keeping the story playful. When Muazzez spies Özgür—a true Romeo—it’s love at first sight, with humor woven into the lovers’ action and dialogue. Özgür comes from cosmopolitan Ankara and asks Muazzez: How can boys see girls in this town? She answers: You marry them.
The story progresses and we watch Muazzez’s two older sisters go through exactly that process of marrying before meeting their patriarch’s choices for them. The girls’ mother Ayda is like one of the sisters, having been betrothed at age fourteen. She often joins in her daughters’ merrymaking and whispered schemes, showing how the women share a secret world of romance novels, movie star pin-ups, and natural urges they have to hide from their male authority.
As the years pass, the unemployed mayor can’t afford his lifestyle any longer, and if he marries off his last daughter, his wife won’t be able to handle the housework on her own. He suggests he take a second wife so Muazzez can marry, but leaves the decision to Ayda and Muazzez. This is a wonderful moment in the movie, tense and meaningful for both the women and the audience. It’s also the film’s turning point into less comedy and more poignancy over life’s losses. However, in keeping with its Shakespearean tradition, the story has placed key props along the way—the green apples and the characters’ traits—that lead to a perfect, climatic ending. All’s well that ends well, with much life experienced along the way.

Cast: Yilmaz Erdoğan (Mayor), Farah Zeynep Abdullah (Muazzez), Songül Öden (Türkan), Sükran Ovali (Safiye), Seher Devrim Yakut (Ayda), Sükrü Özyildiz (Özgür), Fatih Artman (Hatip), Ersin Korkut (Sino).

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rosso Istanbul

Dir. by Ferzan Ozpetek
At the17th Boston Turkish Film Festival
March 24 & 31, 2018
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Rosso Istanbul, directed by Ferzan Ozpetek and based on his 2013 novel by the same name, is a cinematic meditation on his hometown and on life. Reality is not as pretty as our dreams, the movie tells us. This review may have a spoiler.
Similar to Ozpetek’s Turkish baths movie of twenty years ago, Steam, this new film conveys the inner side of human lives, and both movies include endings with death. Both are also set in Istanbul but in different eras, Rosso Istanbul in today’s excess of wealth and lifestyle. Current music blends with traditional, evocative Eastern sounds and their feel of the elusive past, the score by Giuliano Taviani and Carmelo Travia.
The movie is slow because it reflects on individual life experience, from childhood relationships that impact psychology to successful careers that implode, like Deniz’s. Life inevitably deteriorates, but it’s a person’s accumulated memories that lead to later-life depression or despair.
Briefly, a London book editor, Orhan Sahin (Halit Ergenc), returns to his hometown, Istanbul, to help his old friend Deniz Soysal (Nejat Isler), a famous filmmaker, finish his autobiography. Orhan’s tragic face and the film’s other hints about his past eventually reveal the cause for his leaving Turkey twenty years before. Mostly silent, he speaks with his large blue eyes, and panning on all of the protagonists’ faces—their long looks at each otheris overdone. In real life friends don’t hold each other’s gazes for so long.
Deniz’s dissipated face and manic behavior juxtapose Orhan’s passivity. The stunning Neval (Tuba Buyukustun) forms a female addition to the relationships, which also include Deniz’s mentally tortured lover Jusef (Mehmet Gunsur). Neval appears less depressed than the three men, until she says: “But isn’t everyone unhappy?”
That line could be a subtitle for the movie: People are unhappy.
Deniz disappears on the first night of Orhan’s arrival and the rest of the movie takes on suspense about where he is, while the characters’ back stories slowly fill in. Jusef’s angry character is the best role, partly because his gaze never lingers too long on any of his adversaries.
Audiences may appreciate Rosso Istanbul’s study of life—human life—or they may ask: What was the point of this movie? And the ending might disappoint them—it’s ambiguous. Yet that ambiguity also offers a freedom to interpret meaning, which works well with this dark, meditative genre.
The Bosporus’s upscale Karakoy shoreline is the main setting of the film and plays a key role in the central characters’ lives and the movie’s ending. As the story winds up, Jusef tells Orhan that he and Deniz used to challenge each other to swim across the strait. Jusef succeeded many times, despite the dangerous currents, but Deniz never made it more than a few yards before turning back. The audience therefore assumes Deniz, drunk the last time anyone saw him, took on the Bosporus feeling omnipotent, or he committed suicide. Soon after, Jusef drowns in the waters, probably suicide. In the last scene, Orhan sheds his clothes, dives into the water, and begins swimming with a strong stroke. The screen goes black.
            Over the course of the movie, Orhan works through his past and frees himself from his dead condition of twenty years. But what is his future? Does he have a new beginning in Istanbul? Does he dive into the Bosphorus because life is dark and meaningless, or does he dive in feeling empowered to reach the other side, a symbol of his new strength? The viewer must decide an ending to this movie’s sad, but realistic depiction of life.