“For what purpose humanity is there should not even concern us: Why you are there, that you should ask yourself; and if you have no ready answer, then set for yourself goals, high and noble goals, and perish in pursuit of them! I know of no better life purpose than to perish in attempting the great and the impossible...” - Friedrich Nietzsche
We seem to be going through a Turkish film viewing phase at the moment as our public library has brought in some very good DVDs lately. Turkish cinema has come very far in the last two decades and film production values are of a high standard, scenarios are varied and interesting and the acting is excellent. At the weekend we watched another such movie, which dealt with a current issue sensitively and explored some problems that Turkish society is coping with at the moment.
The film was the 2010 Nesli Çölgeçen movie “Denizden Gelen” (From the Sea), starring Onur Saylak, Ahu Türkpençe, Jordan Deniz Boyner, Burak Demir, and Emin Gursoy. It deals with Halil (Saylak), a policeman accused of killing a black illegal immigrant. His trial hearing in Izmir is suspended pending the evidence of an expert witness. Halil decides to take some time off and goes back to his hometown of Mugla to put in order his thoughts and make sense of his life. While on the beach he discovers a small black child, Jordan, floating in the water near the shore. The boy is nearly dead and Halil saves him and rushes him to hospital where the child is looked after. Yaren (Türkpençe), a nurse at the hospital develops a bond with the child and stirs Halil’s conscience regarding not only the child, but also his whole attitude towards illegal immigrants. Together, the nurse and Halil help the child try to contact his father as his mother has drowned in the boat that was taking the family to Greece.
The film deals with a burning issue that is causing concern around the world. Illegal immigrants and refugees are seen with increasing frequency and in increasing numbers in most Western-type countries. Globally in 2012, 45.2 million people became refugees because of forced displacement This figure includes 15.4 million refugees, 937,000 asylum seekers and 28.8 million internally displaced persons. Between 1993 and 2011, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) resettled more than 800,000 refugees. The top 10 countries of origin were Iraq (140,367), Burma (138,751), Somalia (97,912), Bhutan (74,470), Sudan (46,748), Afghanistan, (42,989), Iran (40,875), Bosnia and Herzegovina (27,368), Dem. Rep. of Congo (25,283) and Ethiopia (24,762).
Political, social and economic causes are the main reasons for refugee movements across great distances and at even greater risk, such that they find a better life or avoid imprisonment or death in their home country. Countless numbers of such refugees find tragic deaths in their attempt to survive and live a better life. Turkey and Greece are a nexus for the movement of illegal immigrants into the European Union and both countries try very hard to deal with this problem in a humane way. Needless to say that tragedy is never far, with many refugees dying or living a life of slavery and working in inhumane conditions as they are taken advantage of by unscrupulous people.
We were thoroughly absorbed by this movie, which kept our interest up throughout and dealt sensitively with a thorny issue. The acting was very good and the little child playing Jordan did a sterling job of conveying a range of emotions and coming across as a believable character. The issue of racism and prejudice is highlighted by the plot and the range of characters involved and the transformations they go through. A couple of weaker subplots regarding father/son relationships and problems faced by single women in Turkey are not developed fully, but nevertheless find a place in the main story and support the main theme.
Living in Australia, the film was particularly relevant to us as one constantly hears that we are being swamped by boat people and refugees, with much negativity and adverse public opinion about refugees being rampant within the community. The number of people arriving in Australia to claim asylum jumped by more than a third last year to 15,800 people, driven by an increase in arrivals from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Australia resettles the third largest number of refugees of any country per capita, but the actual asylum seeker numbers in Australia, while politically sensitive, remain numerically small. The UNHCR says Australia receives about three per cent of the total asylum claims made in industrialised countries around the world and, “by comparison, asylum levels in Australia continue to remain below those recorded by many other industrialised and non-industrialised countries”.
Watch this film if you can get your hands on it as it is well-made and deals well with the issues of refugees and displaced persons.