Serbil Turhan’s ‘Koy’ documentary begins with a long shot of a Kurdish mountain village. It consists of a few houses, with the green hills of Northern Kurdistan stretching into the background. After a cut, we find ourselves in a sitting room in Berlin: the Kurdish village can be seen again, this time from a different perspective. It is an image that reminds Gulsah Ozbe, whose name is Nino, of her homeland every day. Nino was born there and her husband was buried there. Plan to follow it up eventually. “We knew our grandchildren would eventually be born here,” she says. Despite this, the old woman considers Kurdistan her home.
The relationship between the documentary’s shot of Kurdistan and the image in the living room in Berlin – a concrete place and an abstract memory – vividly describes the feeling that actress and director Serpil Turhan is trying to convey. She can’t understand why her grandmother and friend Zuri are back in their hometown. Zuri reminds her that the situation in Turkey is dangerous for the Kurds, especially the women. She said in an interview that the director would like to destroy her passport. But she, too, was born in Berlin in 1979, is interested in the question of why she did not abandon this connection to her parents’ homeland.
“Koy” is not Turhan’s first film about her relationship with Kurdistan – and about her grandmother Nino, the head of the family, mother of eleven children. In her first feature film “Dilim Dönmüyor – Meine Tongue Doesn’t Turn” from 2013, she tries to unravel the confusion of languages between the Kurmanji language, the Turkish and German language of her parents, in order to find her own identity. Through Köy, she is now expanding her research scope.
Nino was already a hero in “My Tongue Doesn’t Turn” (his grandfather died shortly after filming). On the other hand, Ziri, whose passport contains the Turkish name Sani, has been added. She runs a café in Schöneberg and at the end of Koy goes to Kurdistan for a longer period of time. “I want to experience all the seasons in my village,” she told Turhan.
Past, present and future
If Nino is the past and the minister of the present, Hevin, born in Berlin in 1996, embodies something like the future in Coy. To her, the nickname “Koy” means two things: the neighborhood around the Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg, which she’s looking at from her apartment. “I’m at home in Kotti,” she reveals to Turhan. and Kurdistan, in which she was already politically active at the age of seventeen.
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Heavin now plans to travel to Turkey as an election observer. The mother warns the daughter of the dangerous journey. But Heavin has another dilemma: She wants to be an actress, and UdK has already accepted her. How is she supposed to juggle her plans for the future with her activism for a country she knows only from visits?
(In cinemas in Berlin fsk, click, wolf)
This approach, constant questioning is also consistent with Serpil Turhan’s modus operandi. Her curiosity and careful exploration create intimacy that opens worlds. Zûrê Café serves as a focal point in the Schöneberg neighborhood in which she lives, and Neno’s apartment, in which she lives alone after her husband’s death, is full of memories – yet a place of transition. Conversations also convey this sense of transience. “The longing will always be there,” says mother Haven, whose political views she has inherited from her daughter. Turhan doesn’t share this longing, but she engages the director enough to make her second film about him.
Hevin says her parents have only experienced wars against the Kurds all their lives. She does not want to die in the war. At the audition, she sang a traditional Kurdish song – “Our Mountains”. In the film, he relates the stories of three women from three generations who never met in front of the camera. The song fills an empty space. In the end, the director’s mother has a different definition of home. “The land is the land,” says El Nino curtly.