© eksystent distribution / Sibille Lehnert Filmdispo

Auf trockenen Gräsern (About Dry Grasses, Kuru Otlar Üstüne)
Turkey/France/Germany/Sweden 2023

Opening 16 May 2024

Directed by: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Writing credits: Akin Aksu, Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Principal actors: Deniz Celiloglu, Merve Dizdar, Musab Ekici, Ece Bagci, Erdem Senocak

Samet (Deniz Celiloglu) teaches fifth grade in a small village in Anatolia, Turkey. He has been there for the last four years and is looking forward to returning to Istanbul. He rooms with a fellow teacher Kenan (Musab Dizdar). A fourteen-year-old student Sevim (Ece Bagci) gives him a love letter, which she then wants to be returned. He claims to have thrown it away. Sevim and another student say that Samet and Kenan have approached them sexually, which, naturally, causes problems for the two guys. Actually, they are interested in another teacher: Nuray (Merve Dizdar). She unfortunately lost a leg during military service. She tells them about her eight months in the hospital. Kenan teaches her to drive, and she buys a car.

The film title translates literally to “On Dry Grasses” and the 197 minutes are carried along expertly with continuous conversations between the actors. There is much to discuss: philosophy, good, bad, forgetting, home, life, patience, and leaving one’s own inner desert or die Wüste deines Inneren (which are the last four words in the film). Often a long film with little action is difficult to enjoy, but here the conversations expertly keep our attention. Snow, which falls continuously and covers the area throughout the events, is practically an actor in its own right until about the last twenty minutes, when life turns “green.” The film was shown in several film festivals, including the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, where Merve Dizdar won best actress. (Becky Tan)

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