Base lives on her own in Elbistan, southern Turkey. Her one hope in life is for her oldest son Hasan to come home and make a life for himself like everyone else. She attributes the silent phone calls she receives at home to Hasan. At around the same time, her younger son Mehmet, who lives in Diyarbakir, finds out that he's to be a father. While moving into a new flat, he comes across an audiotape of his mother and himself as a boy which was recorded to send to his father. Mehmet sets off for Elbistan to look for the tapes his father made and persuade his mother to come and live in Diyarbakir. When Mehmet finds his mother unable to think of anything but Hasan, he slowly manoeuvres himself into her world, dealing with the repairs and garden jobs Base is keen to get done. At the same time, he hunts around the house for his father's tapes. Although Base tries to put Mehmet off, saying there are no tapes left, she fails to deter him. As Mehmet continues looking for the tapes, he begins ...Written by
Brilliant Evocation of the Kurdish Diaspora in Modern Turkey
Following on from his memorable documentary İKİ DİL BİR BAVUL (ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL) (2009), a damning indictment of the way in which the Turkish education system fails to accommodate Kurdish speakers, director Orhan Eskiköy produces another masterly analysis of the plight of Kurdish families in the contemporary Republic.
The plot is straightforward enough. Basé (Basé Doğan) lives on her own in a remote village in Eastern Turkey. She continually expects her son Hasan to return, but it becomes increasingly unlikely that he ever will. Her other son Mehmet (Zeynel Doğan, who also co- directs) tries to persuade her to move in with him in the city of Diyarbakır, but she stubbornly refuses. Mehmet goes to visit her in her lonely house, and discovers memories about himself and his family's past.
Shot in a series of long takes, BABAMIN SESİ depicts a lonely, alienated world in which the family seldom communicates face to face. Most of their thoughts have been committed to tape- recordings, many of them made long ago when Mehmet and Hasan were children. We learn that Basé's husband apparently spent many years working abroad; the only way of communicating with him was through these tape-recordings. Having completed his education, Hasan has also flown the family nest.
In this desolate, remote world of rugged landscapes and anonymous- looking buildings, there is no real future for anyone. This is what prompts Hasan and his father to flee. Unable to speak Turkish, Basé has been forced to stay at home; she once hoped that her sons could teach her the language (and hence increase her prospects of movement away from her hometown), but they never materialized. The main reason for her wanting to keep the family home is fear of the unknown.
As Mehmet starts to rummage around the family home, in search of the tapes (many of which he has never previously heard), he finds relics of his past - child's clothing, knick-knacks. Through such discoveries he finds out the truth about his family; his father never went abroad, while Hasan went to fight for the Kurds in their never-ending struggle for independence. We also discover something about Mehmet's own life; his struggles to learn Turkish in an unforgiving educational system, and his desire to rebel against traditions and branch out on his own.
Nothing is resolved at the end; Basé desperately tries to preserve her self-respect, while Mehmet struggles to maintain his filial loyalties towards her. The presence of the tapes in the house denotes the oppressive power of the past - not just the family's domestic affairs, but the wider context of the Kurdish fight for self-determination. Nothing can move forward; nothing can be resolved.
The dialogue is sparse, in both Kurdish and Turkish, making us aware of the inability of people living in the same country to communicate with one another. BABAMIN SESİ is a pessimistic film, rendered even more poignant now, as it seems that no one, not least the central government in Ankara, wants to bring about a solution to the Kurds' plight.
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