Modern take on Abraham's sacrifice dissects Turkish village life

Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:50am EST
 
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By Alexandra Hudson

BERLIN (Reuters) - After years focusing on his visual arts career, Turkey's Kutlug Ataman has returned to feature filmmaking with a touching portrait of the pressures and hypocrisy of village life in his northeastern Anatolian homeland.

'Kuzu' (The Lamb) uses the occasion of the circumcision of a young boy, Mert, to explore relations in his desperately poor family, and how his parents behave under the weight of the social expectation to roast a lamb for a celebration feast.

The vast desolate beauty of Erzincan province's snow-covered landscapes seems to muffle the emotions characters struggle to express. The ancient scriptural theme of Abraham and the near-sacrifice of his son Isaac hangs ominously in the air.

Mert's mother Medine is determined to find and serve a lamb to win the respect of the village. Meanwhile, Mert's jealous sister tortures her brother with tales that, if they cannot afford a lamb, the family will roast and serve up him instead.

The terrified boy spends most of the film in flight, even at one point cowering in the tandir, the pit oven in the ground where the lamb is traditionally roasted.

START WITH AN IMAGE

"I always start with an image," said Ataman, who directed the film and wrote the screenplay.

"The image I had was that I was walking in the empty frozen fields, and I had a vision of the sky opening and the archangel Gabriel bringing a ram. It is the story of Abraham and Isaac from the Old Testament or Ibrahim and Ismail from the Koran."   Continued...

 
Artist Kutlug Ataman attaches the first cloth to start his art project "Silsel" at Galata Greek Primary School in Istanbul in this May 12, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Murad Sezer