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Review: Nomadland

Havvanur Korkut wrote about Nomadland, one of the award season’s most famous productions.




“I’m Not Homeless, I’m Just Houseless”

The film, starring Frances McDormand, is directed by Chloe Zhao. Zhao, who managed to make a name for herself by winning many awards with her western-style movie “The Rider“, made history as the “first woman of Asian origin to win the Golden Globe” by winning the ‘Best Director Award’ at the Golden Globe Awards with “Nomadland“.

Although we witness that wars and natural disasters are the cause of the increasing rates of forced migration today, in fact, socioeconomic reasons also play a big role. An immigrant is a person removed from his homeland. Throughout his life, he stays somewhere and tries to have a homeland. He drags with him the pain of leaving his home, leaving from his land. When we look at the past, immigration has turned into a lifestyle, especially in Turkish culture. When in order to obtain the necessary resources to ensure the sustainability of life and to live, changing places at regular intervals becomes a tradition or habit, it becomes nomadism. “Nomadland” presents sections of this modern nomadism, which has turned into a lifestyle.

Nomadland filmi

Based on Jessica Brurder‘s book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, the film tells the story of an old woman who sets off from the town of Nevada with her caravan after the economic crisis and collapse in 2008. “Nomadland” is a road movie played by Frances McDorman, where we follow the 60-year-old Fern who lost her job, her husband, in short, everything and decided to continue her life with a caravan as a result of this crisis.

Actually, we are watching the transition of an obligation to a lifestyle throughout the film. In this process, we can see that the consequences of the crisis and collapse, political and economic messages and criticisms are effectively processed while touching the lives of homeless, unemployed and lonely people.

Nomadland başrolü McDorman

As the stations pass and the events unfold, we understand the destination of Fern’s journey as a result of unexpected changes in her life, or the main reasons behind her decision. In the film, Fern, who is masterfully brought to life by McDorman, even though she gives a sad and desperate appearance, appears as a character who can remain stronger with the memories she keeps alive. Fern, who turned her van into a caravan and set off as a modern nomad, must be aware of this, as she insists that whenever she encounters an incident that would put an end to this journey – although she might like it – she insists on leaving that place and continuing her caravan journey. While she has lost everything, we can say that maybe she chooses a lifestyle with many constant changes in order not to lose everything again. When asked if she was homeless at the beginning of the movie she says, “I’m not homeless, I’m just houseless. The two are different things”. Later in the film, however, in a conversation with an anti-capitalist nomad leader, Bob Wells, Fern shares the idea that all memories of his dead husband will disappear in time, and that if she establishes a settled life with another person or elsewhere, he will be left with no rememberance. Her beloved husband would be as if he had never existed in this life. Fern, on the other hand, seems to keep his alive with the memories of her husband on this endless journey. Because, as she said, “what is remembered lives”.

The other actors of the film that we see as nomads are actually real people who live this life which is the subject of the film. Although the characters who play themselves, the external shots with their magnificent views, the real places and the realism of the events give the film a documentary flavor, this choice of Chloe Zhao leaves a convincing impression on the audience.

Nomadland başrolü Zhao

At this point, it is necessary to mention the previous movie of the director, “The Rider“. You can get a similar taste with its fascinating landscapes, natural life story and calm nature plans in the movie, which tells the adventure of a young cowboy who had a big accident in the Rodeo race. It would not be wrong to say that the reason behind Zhao collecting so many awards is this unique style of hers that she successfully exhibited in both her films.

The Rider (2017) Chloé Zhao

The postcard-like nature plans and travel scenes of the movie, directed by the cinematographer Joshua James Richard, are accompanied by the music of Ludvico Einaudi. If you are interested in travel stories, caravans and nature scenes, you will have the chance to look at the nomadic life from a different perspective in this documentary-like movie.

Havvanur Korkut

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Review: Quo Vadis, Aida?

Oscar nominee “Quo Vadis, Aida?” reviewed by Guven Adiguzel.



Quo Vadis, Aida?

The Healing Power or Quo Vadis, Aida?

“Some of the Mothers live only in order to find them and bury their loved ones. They know all their other relatives are dead, and if they don’t find them, their children will not have even a grave to visit. I know that no film can communicate such an amount of pain, but I tried to show a small part of this tragedy.”

Jasmila Zbanic

We saw the same graffiti written in blood red on every corner of our Sarajevo and Mostar travels ten years after the Bosnian massacre: Don`t Forget’95 / Don`t Forget’93. A warning to “don’t forget!” The horrific story of nearly 30 years of a horrific genocide in which collective memory has been harmed but witnesses still traumatized. The freshness of the pain contains a gap that maybe only the sufferer understands, and the muteness tells a larger story. When I see the sorrow of withdrawn silence, I always remember the warning to “don’t forget.” Even, I suppose it is more obvious from the perspective of art that pain cannot be quantified.

When it comes to Bosnia, Jasmila Zbanic comes to mind first, who holds a unique position among directors, aligns her camera above the war, telling her story with a deeper understanding. In her devastating film “Grbanica: The Land of My Dreams,” (2006) the young director placed the traces of a post-war trauma at the center. The fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina is returning with Quo Vadis, Aida,” which has a global financial relationship and can make its voice known in the international arena, and which is really taking a chance in its maturity period by calling out from the middle of the war, is something to be appreciated. Really, the film’s straightforward telling of the story does not mesh well with her style. However, at the conclusion of the film, we met a director who, by maintaining emotional distance, was able to show a big trauma “without taking advantage.” This is good.

The film of Zbanic, Quo Vadis, Aida? (Where Are You Going, Aida?), which we feel the director -even though she stays true to the chronology- focuses on the days of genocide in Srebrenica, where the largest massacre took place in Europe after WW II on July 11, 1995, focuses on the days of genocide. It is also the first feature film to portray this genocide, regarded as one of the darkest periods in human history, in which 8372 civilians were slaughtered. The film is set in a UN base -a safe zone- where Aida, who was a teacher before the war in Srebrenica, where she lived with her family, worked as a translator during the genocide; with its suspense that does not break the emotion of the story, its compelling atmosphere, and its realistic drama that does not exploit the suffering, it takes us to its cool final. The director positions the viewers in the same pressure as Aida in this story that she has built with clean expressions; we can easily say that it can allow the viewer to watch the desperation of people who were sent to death by being placed on buses with the feeling of “like we were there.” Of course, the key elements are well-managed figuration and good acting in this film.

“You’re Well Aware of What Happened”

With its biblical name “Quo Vadis, Aida?” takes the footprints of the imminent disaster from Aida’s house and opens towards the big house. The tragedy is depicted with highly polished and strong photographs, from a woman lying on the ground with three bullet holes on her back to the discarded meal still cooking in the oven, from the mayor’s arrest to the hateful Serbian soldiers shooting civilians with fear, from the desperation of street animals to the excruciating migration of civilians. The plot revolves around Aida’s distinct face, which develops with Zbanic‘s touches. The UN base, a former battery factory run by armed Dutch soldiers in the village of Potocari, 6 kilometers from Srebrenica, is the only hope for those escaping the disaster and the precursor to a bigger massacre.

The fact that the guardians of this untouchable fortress, where the UN flag is flying, are Dutch soldiers who resemble a stereotype with their uneasy expressions, novice looks, and shorts uniforms also demonstrate how they taking “serious” of people’s lives. Yes, no one cared about the innocent people who were murdered that day. Everyone was whistling as they watched that savagery depending on their willpower. The director’s attitude, which purposely places the UN’s responsibility in this genocide at the core and moves towards the mask of understanding that handed the victim over to the murderer, is a rather sophisticated reminder for an international film. At this point, the warm scenes in which Serbs give bread to Bosniak civilians in the gathering area should be analyzed in the light of “reminders” for the portrait of the murderer who has great hypocrisy and can use all human values to make the victims believe that he will not commit a massacre.

Aida attempts to work as a translator while trying to save her family’s life at the UN foundation, but she notices that the sentences she translated have become pointless and invalid over time. The burden of speech, which grows heavier and heavier, will place a difficult burden on her throat and then on her heart. At this point, translating what the Dutch colonel said into Bosnian becomes a blind void with a great sense of guilt that collapses on you as a witness of that moment when touch transforms into a mass of meaningless voices and the coldness of the approaching massacre is felt. Aida will translate these sentences in sorrow, despite the fact that she knows that everyone at the UN base was bused to death. However, the word has already been ended. As an officer told a journalist who questioned about what happened at the base, “you know exactly what it is!

Quo Vadis, Aida?

Ballpoint Pen And Kalashnikov

When seeing this film through the eyes of what occurred in 1995, it is important that a director who uses the possibilities of cinema as a narrative returns to today and says it. Even the existence of a scene “telling” the confiscation of ballpoint pens in the pockets of civilians loaded onto buses with machine guns on the grounds that it would be unacceptable for UN Peace Force soldiers to get on a bus with a cutting tool is significant. Even a single scene can tell what happened in 1995 in the most shocking way. Ballpoint pen and Kalashnikov. Peace and death. The scenes in which the murdered civilians look at each other for the last time, or when Aida returns to her home and is faced with identical images (her memories she had lost) tearing up one by one at the UN base due to security concerns, have a huge effect on the overall sense of the film.

And the civilian massacre, which they calling as war, ends. Dayton Peace Agreement is signed. Many winters, summers, and springs have passed. Aida returns to where she started, no longer four, but alone. When she arrives at her house’s entrance, which her husband has locked tightly while leaving, she has no key in her pocket, rings the bell, and discovers she has entered a foreign house where shoes are not removed. A familiar yet strange home, inhabited in every way, where the clock on the wall still stands in the same spot, without two sons and husbands beside them, taken as spoils by those who want to kill them. She first takes her invaders out of her house. She kindly expels them. And in the first scene where she reaches her hall, her house is now clockless. She returns to where she started, Aida goes back to her home, school, life and back to herself.

In the finale, we see Aida watching a show put on by children in the location of her great massacres, which she had to share with her killers who had returned to civilian life. We focus on the intensity of the suffering conveyed by the innocence they portray. This is a message sent to those who should be embarrassed by children who do not have to cover their faces because they have done nothing to be ashamed of. Those that are left behind will never be able to recover as long as you continue to neglect it. This is how it will be, not 26 years but 26 centuries. Quo Vadis? , that Latin saying used in all world languages. So “Quo Vadis Aida?” where does this question stand? Where can Aida go? She can go to the innocence of the children at most. So who will Aida ask the same question now? Congratulations to Jasmila Zbanic and everyone who believed in this movie.

Note: While Another Round (Denmark) is said to have a strong chance at the Oscar ceremony on April 25, it seems very likely to win the Oscar if the documentary Collective (Romania) can be overlooked – if there are no other reasons- “Quo Vadis, Aida?” seems quite possible that it will win the Oscar. This award, as well as the subsequent award speech, would undoubtedly reintroduce genocide to the global scene. The forgotten genocide can be repeated. Every movie that reminds of this is also valuable for this reason. Fe eyne tezhebûn? (where are you going?)

Guven Adiguzel

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