The Golden Orange Diaries 1: Troubled men, unsympathetic women

Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival met with the audience for the 59th time. Despite a thousand and one troubles and scandalous events, the history of the country’s cinema is largely established and written in this festival. Not only in a positive sense, but also in a negative way. Cinema doesn’t always get better because it has been upside down in this land for a long time.

The most curious part of the festival, the National Feature Film Competition, started as of October 2. There is a lot to be said about the films of the first day, “A Hope” and “Hara”. But not so much. Debates have been going on for a long time that Turkish cinema does not have a ‘common’ language, aesthetics, and a style that can only be understood by moviegoers. But these two films draw attention because they show us that we are moving towards a bad sense of language, aesthetics and style. Turkish cinema now proceeds in the form of repetitive themes and scenes.


Ümit Köreken’s second film, “Bir Umut”, which was featured in the Generation section of Berlinale with his previous film “Blue Bike”, builds his story on the theme of the “troubled man”, which is the trademark of his hometown cinema. We meet a couple of theater actors. Umut is a promising actress and Asiye is a director. While the two are in their car one morning, Umut gets a phone call. Of course, our character takes on mysteries instead of telling the subject to his life partner. The woman naturally wonders about this mystery and a family problem emerges. Umut has had to reconnect with his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in twenty years, and that is the reason for all his adolescent behavior.

The movie was often compared to Özcan Alper’s Netflix movie “Lovers’ Day” both in post-screening conversations and on social media. A similar theme, which is not considered unfair, is built over mother-son instead of father-son. Without further ado, the problem of both films is that they look for the problem not in the sons, but in the parents! It is naïve to say the least to see a cinematic depth in the adolescent debuts of immature men in their thirties who cannot go beyond “why don’t you love me”. Since the “Lovers’ Day” has become a hot topic, Ümit Köreken cannot add depth to his character and convincing the tension between mother and son. It simply repeats a fight that took place 20 years ago on the screen. The scene where Umut explodes at his mother was obviously written and shot so that the audience could understand the situation. But this scene sums up the whole situation for us. However, the characters already dominate the situation. That fight was fought 20 years ago, those words were spoken. When you can’t find a visual way to explain the tension between mother and son, choosing the easy one and solving it with an angry fight in the car is a tried and tested way in this country. Frankly, it’s pretty easy, superficial.

On the other hand, as the whole story is built on Umut, Asiye, who, in her own words, does not leave her alone in difficult conditions and gives her a new direction in her life, cannot go beyond a formality. By formality, I mean, unfortunately, Asiye’s existence cannot turn into a character on its own in order to make Umut meaningful. Ümit Köreken doesn’t show his character as a very good person, but he can’t resist him either. Hope ruins everything in the end, but it seems like he wants us to understand him. We could have tried to understand even if we didn’t agree, but unfortunately the movie cannot offer anything beyond what it shows, we understand what we see. Therefore, the mother’s silence and Umut’s adolescent anger remain one-dimensional and new meanings cannot be attributed.

A hope

The second mystery man movie of the day was Atalay Taşdiken’s “Hara”. In fact, the movie claims it isn’t. For example, in the short story on the festival’s official website, it is stated that 13-year-old Beste’s passion for horses and the disintegration of his family. No other name is mentioned in this promotion. But the movie is not like that. Of course, Cihan, the father of Beste, who is also a troubled man, comes and sits when the image starts to flow in the center. When the owner of the farm where he worked for years dies, the heir Melike starts to change the conditions. He decides to sell the horses because of debts. Cihan, his wife Aslı and his daughter Beste have been living in this stud farm for years. And Beste has a special relationship with the horse named Turagay.

Meanwhile, what do you think his wife Aslı is doing while Cihan is vacuuming her hair to try to save both the farm and the horses and make Beste happy? It is said nonstop. It is said about his job, it is said about the farm, it is said about Cihan’s indifference, but it is always said. When this is the case, we come across a portrait of a woman who is constantly being told to the troubled and self-sacrificing man. Moreover, the director also makes the female character a liar. For example, somewhere “Am I doing this because I want to go to the city?” says Asli, but when she leaves the house, she goes to live in one of the most luxurious estates. In the meantime, Melike, the person of her age, the heir who sees everything as material, starts to come to mercy after a while. The kindness of the maid of the house, Hacer, the efforts of Cihan, the love of Beste for Turagay, the diaries of the farm owner’s deceased aunt, a Hulusi Kentmen escapes into her and the happy ending. “Hara” might be called a nice TV movie, but that’s all unfortunately.

The tradition of local films about solving all critical issues on the tables is once again registered as one of the characteristics of our national cinema. Taşdiken’s script always skips the processes. He constantly shows us important moments. He doesn’t care about the decision to divorce, but the abandonment of the house, not the mood of Beste during the sale of Turagay, but the sale, not the storms that break inside Aslı, but the moments when it turns to Cihan. However, aren’t the things that make a good story always skipped? This inevitably evokes the aesthetic of television. And not showing raki in close-up should be the result of such a choice!

Stud farm

The only positive thing we can say about these films, in which the stories of two troubled men are told, is “thank God the characters are not named Yusuf”. As you know, our cinema deserves the name Yusuf for all troubled men!