Previously at the ICA - Films

Bal (Honey), Dir. Semih Kaplanoglu, 2009

Bal (Honey)

15 Jul 201128 Aug 2011

★★★★★ "A quiet miracle" The Independent
★★★★ "Beautiful, contemplative, carefully composed movie" Guardian
★★★★ "This gorgeous film.. (is) a deserving winner of the Golden Bear at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival" Time Out
★★★★★ Financial Times

An elemental exploration of childhood, Bal expresses a young boy’s inner life through the remote rural, almost sentient, landscape of a small mountain community near Turkey’s Black Sea coast. It’s one of the great metaphysical landscape films alongside Herzog’s Aguirre: Wrath of God, Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock or Roeg’s Walkabout and was a worthy winner of last year’s Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival as well as winner of the inaugural Distribution Award at the London Turkish Film Festival.

Yusuf, the centre of the film, is a shy young schoolboy struggling to cope with a stutter which cuts him off from his peers leaving him to project wonder and admiration onto his father. Each day Yusuf watches and waits as his father sets off, with little more than a rope and a knapsack, to collect the titular honey from the tops of the fearsomely tall trees of the surrounding thick forest.

Yusuf’s father is struggling against the onset of invisible pollution and has to penetrate ever deeper into the forest in search of the diminishing supply of pure honey which is the family’s livelihood. Only one day, he fails to return. Yusuf is distraught and sets out deep into the woods to search for his father. What he finds verges on a mystical journey into the heart of adulthood and a confrontation with the implacably terrifying will of nature.

A work pitched wonderfully between lyricism and the harsh reality of an impoverished rural community, Bal is at once a tender love letter to youth, a steely critique of a way of life in steep decline and an almost impossibly moving depiction of the trip from innocence into experience.

Dir. Semih Kaplanoglu, 2009, Turkish with English subtitles, PG cert, 104min

Cast: Bora Atlas, Erdal Besikcioglu, Tulin Ozen 

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