de?il ç??l?k

For the Denver International Film Festival, this movie is known as Hejar, the name of the little (I'm guessing maybe five years old) Kurdish girl that everything centers around.

There's a fair amount of political information I'm not saavy to, which would make understanding some of what's going on better, but to the movie's credit, we don't miss an awful lot.

After her parents are killed, Hejar is placed with a relative in the city who happens to be hiding two other people. The place is raided, there is a gunfight, and there are no apparent survivors.

But Hejar has hidden in a cupboard and walks out after things are calmed down and the cleanup is down to one guy poking around. She walks around, oblivious to the overall situation, and wanders into the hall. There she is spotted by Rifat, a retired judge who is considering moving to assisted living.

Rifat quickly assesses the situation and takes her in before her situation becomes more dire. His intention is to get her back with appropriate family, but doing that proves to be quite difficult.

The other difficulty is that Hejar is a Kurd, and Rifat is a Turk, and the speak different languages. This is more than a language, or even a cultural, barrier - Rifat refuses to let Kurdish be spoken in his home, which makes the gulf between them even wider.

Hejar is largely a withdrawn child. I found myself wondering whether her largely wooden appearance was a matter of post-traumatic stress disorder, or just having a very young actress who was suffering from a degree of confusion. It very well could be both. But where it really counts she is responsive and emotive and clearly has a handle on the pain of the character. She really has quite a mouth on her when she gets going.

It appears that the English translation of the Turkish title is "Big Man, Little Love" (please correct me if I'm wrong). It's not too surprising that he starts to truly care for his ward. Eventually, he allows his maid to speak with Hejar in Kurdish, even though he has banned the language in his home. Finally, some real communication begins to trickle between them. The transition with him is pretty believable, and doesn't smack of manipulation - though it does seem somewhat ordinary.

The ending is truly heartbreaking, and makes the film. Without the last emotional tug, we'd be worrying about the forgotten plot points and the general looseness of the script. The movie isn't bad, but I worry about whether it can find an audience outside of Turkey - I certainly can't imagine finding it outside the confines of a film festival in the U.S.

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