Monday, May 08, 2006

The Play | Oyun by Pelin Esmer

Documentary on Turkish village women turned actresses screened in NY film festival. The award-wining documentary titled 'Oyun' (The Play) by Turkish director and screenwriter Pelin Esmer wasshown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which is marking its fifth anniversary. The festival, considered one of the most important in New York awarded the director as Best New Documentary Filmmaker: Pelin Esmer for "The Play" (Oyun), Turkey.

The Play Oyun 2005 70 min

Directed By: Pelin Esmer North American Premiere

"Those nine women doing theater in their own village would, in any case, write and put on stage a play based on their life stories, whether or not I made this movie. That was the most exciting aspect of this work for me. I wanted to shoot a fiction-like documentary rather than a documentary-like fiction film, without trying to be invisible but quietly integrating myself in their lives at that very village, at that very moment and with the very people living through this happening. It has been a very important experience for me to observe the film to go back and forth on the thin line between a documentary and a fiction film while I was shooting, whilst the line between their real lives and their play blurred. Our filming crew of three eventually turned out to be a part of their theater team. Working under similar circumstances they created, at the end of five weeks, "the play of their lives", and I created, at the end of two years, the film "The Play". Pelin Esmer

When Ummuye Kocak attends a school play, she gets the crazy idea that the women in her small mountain village in southern Turkey should put one on themselves. After all, they have each played roles of their own: mother, wife, nanny, farmer, firewood carrier. What does it matter if they only have a primary-school education and if some are functionally illiterate? The eight women enlisted by Kocak meet with school principal Hüseyin Arslanköylu, who listens to their stories of forced marriages, abusive and alcoholic husbands, and callous in-laws-stories they have never even told one another-and weaves them into one continuous multigenerational drama titled The Outcry of Women, in which the women are to play all the roles. As they run through their lines in the fields, rehearse in front of cardboard sets, and argue with the director-and with one another when one of them misses a rehearsal-they find that their husbands are treating them with a new respect. One woman's husband helps her memorize her lines, while another husband puts an end to his beatings. Local hairdresser Nesime Kahraman, who will play the role of the teacher, gives short haircuts to the women playing the male roles, while introverted narrator Behiye Yanik builds up her confidence by practicing her lines in front of a mirror. Kocak winds up playing Aytul, the daughter who thinks she can save the world by putting on a play, and in some ways, that is exactly what she does. Pelin Esmer's The Play is a joyous celebration of the strength that comes with finding your voice.
- Ann Lewinson

Pelin Esmer

Born in 1972 in Istanbul. She majored in sociology at Bogaziçi University. After graduating, she took lessons at Z1 film workshop. She was assistant director in a number of Turkish and foreign projects, including documentaries, features and commercials.

Her first film, the documentary “The Collector” (2002) received the Best Documentary Award at Rome Independent Films Festival and won the third place at Ankara Film Festival. It is also included in the Harvard Film Archive. She gave lectures at Kadir Has University Film Radio and TV Department. The Play is her first feature length documentary film.


Oyun – The Play (2005)director, producer, cinematographer, editor
Original / English title
Oyun / The Play
Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor
Pelin Esmer

Nida Karabol Akdeniz
Executive Producer
Tolga Esmer
Original Music
Mazlum Cimen
Additional camera for the play scenes
Mustafa Unlu, Ozlem Ozbek
Production Manager
Peri Johnson
Emrah Yildirim, Bulent Kilic
Post Production Supervisor
Cem Yildirim
Arslankoy Village Theater Group:
Behiye Yanik, Cennet Gunes, Fatma Fatih, Fatma Kahraman, Huseyin Arslankoylu, Naside Kahraman, Nesime Kahraman, Saniye Cengiz, Ummuye Kocak, Ummu Kurt, Zeynep Fatih (all as themselves).

Production Company, Year and Country: Sinefilm, 2005, Turkey
Genre : Documentary
Duration : 70 minutes
Language : Turkish
Subtitle : English, Spanish, French
Shooting Format : DV
Projection Format : DigiBeta (color), 35mm (color, no subtitles)
Sound : Stereo
Screen Ratio : 1:1,33

Koleksiyoncu – The Collector (2002) director, producer, cinematographer
received the Best Documentary Awardat Rome Independent Films Festival
Gonlumdeki Kosk Olmasa (2002)Omfavn Mig Måne/House of Hearts(by Elisabeth Rygard)first assistant director

Deli Yurek Bumerang Cehennemi (2001)Wildheart, Hell of Boomerang(by Osman Sinav)first assistant director

Cumhuriyet - The Republic (1998)(by Ziya Oztan)first assistant director

Conversations Across Bosphorus (1995)(by Jeanne Finley)assistant director