From Drakes Avenues Pictures comes the DVD release of the 2010 Golden Bear Award winner at the Berlin Film Festival, Bal is the last in the Yusuf trilogy by Semih Kaplanoglu. The writer-director is one of the most revered contemporary film-makers currently working in Turkey, second to Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
The film is set in the isolated part of Northeast Turkey, Yusuf has just started primary school and is learning to read and write. His father Yakup is a honey-gatherer, a risky trade which involves climbing up ropes into the tops of trees where the beehives are. The forests that Yusuf goes to see are full of mystery and wonder, they are shot with this wonderful feel of the light receding from the frame but you know the child is safe with his father nearby.
Yusuf suffers from the social affliction of being tongue-tied and stammer's when at school, yet the strong bond between father and son allows Yusuf to feel at ease and communicate most easily when addressing him.
The fear and ridicule of his paralysis is only heightened when Yakup must travel faraway to a forest in a mountainous area, from which he does not return and days pass forever. Yusuf eventually summons up the courage to go and search for his father himself.
Following in the footsteps of similar European films dealing with missing/returning fathers, The Return from Russia comes to mind, this film forms the last part (yet in reverse order) of Kaplanoglu's Yusuf trilogy serving as the grounding for the lead character as we see him in his infancy. The lead performance from the young actor, Bora Atlas is startling in its strength.
Whilst the film is certainly meditative in its narrative progression, and shot beautifully in the wonderful rarely photographed regions, calling to mind the reflective personal projects of Andrei Tarkovsky - you do get a sense that the slowburn nature of the film did need a kick at some point.
However, this along with this year's earlier Men on the Bridge and the forthcoming Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, from Ceylan (featuring in the 2011 LFF).
The film is released from Verve Pictures on DVD for £10.89RRP and is rated PG, the extras include a trailer.
My thanks to Rabbit Publicity for the disc.