Times and Winds (Bes Vakit)
It’s taken a couple of years for Times and Winds, the fourth feature of Turkish writer-director Reha Erdem, to find a British distributor, but it’s been worth the wait: this magnificent work provides a striking vision of childhood in a mountainous Anatolian village overlooking the Aegean Sea. Erdem concentrates on the experiences of a trio of pre-pubescent adolescents within this patriarchal community. Omer (Ozkan Ozen), the son of the local Imam, resents the way his father prefers his younger sibling, and dreams up ways of hastening his dad’s demise. Omer’s pal Yakup (Ali Bey Kayali) has a crush on the schoolteacher (Selma Ergec). And the dreamy Yildiz (Elit Iscan) is forced by her mother to look after her baby brother and do household chores.
Times and Winds is divided into five chronological sections, each one named after a specific time of day for Islamic prayers. Yet organised religion isn’t the only force guiding the routines of the inhabitants: nature itself exerts its own powerful rhythms. The moon scuttles behind clouds, the wind blows through trees, the air is filled with birdsong and animals copulate.
The slow windscreen pans, elegant Steadicam sequences and swooping crane shots are accompanied by extracts from Arvo Pärt’s compositions, which accentuate the mood of timeless yearning. Erdem too has found a resonant visual motif to express the states-of-mind of his pre-teen characters: he frequently shoots them blissfully asleep, lying in bushes or fields, and destined to wake up to the burden of adult duties and responsibilities.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 10–Thu 16 Oct.