Saturday, September 12, 2009

53. BFI London Film Festival | Men on the Bridge by Asli Özge

Men on the Bridge

A prize-winning portrait of life in the rapidly changing sprawl of today's Istanbul, offering resonant and affecting insights in a pacy, punchy, multi-strand narrative.

The titular bridge is the splendid but often gridlocked Bosphorus Bridge that spans the divide between Europe and Asia; the men, three young inhabitants of the Istanbul suburbs who use it daily. Umut crosses it repeatedly in his taxi, hoping the work will buy the kind of smart apartment his wife Cemile wants. Traffic cop Murat, meanwhile, would just like a wife or a girlfriend; originally from eastern Turkey, he finds the city a lonely place. Finally, there's Fikret, who'd be satisfied with a job; reduced to illegally selling roses on the bridge, he barely sees the city's fashionable centre except when he's seeking work in the shops there. Though firmly rooted in specific experiences – it was originally planned as a documentary on this trio whose paths occasionally cross – Özge's wonderfully fresh, insightful portrait of life in today's Istanbul is equally relevant to London or any rapidly changing metropolis in its reflections on how economics, family, the media, sex, race, tradition and globalisation affect our lives. The performances – all by non-professionals – are excellent, the various threads of the pacy narrative deftly interwoven, and the whole film handles a range of pressing issues with the lightest of touches. A very deserving winner of the Golden Tulip at this year's Istanbul Film Festival.

Geoff Andrew

Asli Özge
Fikret Portakal, Murat Tokgöz, Umut Ilker
Germany, Turkey, Netherlands
Asli Özge
Running time

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