Men on the Bridge
Naturalistic Turkish drama set on the Bosphorus Bridge
Spanning some 1.5 km, the frequently gridlocked Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul links Europe and Asia. It’s this impressive edifice, which forms the backdrop to female Turkish director Asli Ozge’s debut feature, which deftly interweaves the lives of three men, whose work takes them to the bridge on a daily basis.
Umut (Umut Ilker) struggles to earn a living by driving a shared taxi, and rows with his wife Cemile (Cemile Ilker), who wants to buy a bigger flat. Traffic policeman Murat (Murat Tokgoz), a Muslim from Eastern Turkey, has taken up internet dating in an attempt to find a suitable wife. And the teenaged Roma Fikret (Fikret Portakal), who sells roses to drivers, seeks both a legitimate job and a girlfriend.
The naturalistically shot Men on the Bridge has the feel of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, although it’s a scripted drama, in which the non-professional cast play versions of themselves (Murat is actually played by the character’s brother). Ozge doesn’t ignore the prejudices of these individuals, whether it’s a matter of anti-Kurdish sentiments or crude sexism, yet she is clearly sympathetic towards the everyday struggles of Umut, Murat and Fikret to keep their heads above water in today’s fast-changing Istanbul.
GFT, Glasgow Monday 7–Wednesday 9 March and selected release.