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Before Your Eyes

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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(Mar 06, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Ten year old Gulistan and her brother Firat live in the heart of Turkish Kurdistan. Tragedy strikes when their parents are shot down by paramilitary gunmen before their very eyes. Traumatized and orphaned, Gulistan and Firat try to care for their infant sister, but their money soon runs out and they're forced onto the street. It is there that Gulistan meets the part-time escort Dilara. Accompanying her on a hotel call one day, Gulistan is shocked to discover Dilara's client is the murderer of her parents, and quickly devises a plan for revenge.

Bonus features include a complementary short film, Director's Statement, and Bio, amongst other features.

Review

WINNER - Best Director - Istanbul Int'l Film Festival
WINNER - Special Jury Prize - Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival
WINNER - Youth Prize - San Sebastian Int'l Film Festival
WINNER - Special Jury Prize - Ghent Int'l Film Festival
WINNER - Grand Prix of European Cinema - Febiofest New Prague
WINNER - Best Actress - Istanbul Int'l Film Festival
WINNER - Best Music - Istanbul Int'l Film Festival
WINNER - Best Film - Med Film Festival
WINNER - Children's Award - ALE KINO Polish Film Festival
WINNER - Audience Award - The Movies That Matter Film Festival
----

The film has moments, especially toward the end, that so transcend the material as to make the journey doubly worthwhile. ----Jay Weissberg, Variety

Winner Special Jury Prize --Antalya Film Festival

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Senay Orak
  • Directors: Miraz Bezar
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Film Movement
  • DVD Release Date: March 6, 2012
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005KMBXLS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,179 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Top Customer Reviews

Let me state upfront that I am a big fan of the Film Movement library of indie and foreign films. I have see quite a few of their 120 releases over the last 10 years, but I still have quite a few to go as well. Fell upon this one recently at my local library's foreign movie section and picked it up blindly.

"Before Your Eyes" (2009 release from Turkish Kurdistan; original title "The Children of Diyarbakir"; released in the US in 2012; 101 min.) is set entirely in the city of Diyarbakir, in Turkish Kurdistan, where there is a lot of tension between local Kurds and Turkish forces. As the movie opens, we meet a local family consisting of mom, dad, and three children, a girl, 10, a boy, about 8, and a little baby. Everything seems to be going well. About a half-hour into the movie, as the family is driving back from a wedding, they are stopped for what appears to be a routine traffic check the local police (but in fact it is the secret state security force) and shockingly, the parents are murdered in cold blood in front of the children. The kids then come in the care of their aunt, who some time thereafter also disappers. How will the children take care of themselves? Can they find rescue with another family member? Why were their parents murdered? To tell you more of the plot would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to find out for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: first, I don't know what it's taken this long to get this movie released in the US, as this originally came out in 2009. But better late than never obviously. Second, viewer beware: this is not always an easy movie to watch, as the struggles encountered by the children are gut-wrenching at times.
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There are a lot of films out there based on the turmoil in the Middle East. I'll admit, I haven't seen too many of them, but those I have were deeply effective and more often than not, quite tragic. What many Middle Eastern countries and villages face on a daily basis is unfathomable to me. It's no surprise that movies have been such a powerful outlet for those that face these constant threats and struggles. Before Your Eyes is one such example of what I can only assume a realistic tale of a family caught in the cross hairs of oppression.

The film takes place in Diyarbakir in Turkish Kurdistan in the early 90's. This is a place that I haven't even heard of prior to viewing this film (I assume this is true for many of my fellow countrymen as well), but from what I understand Before Your Eyes paints a fairly accurate portrait of it (in fact, according to the director, it's probably worse in real life). At the beginning of the film we're introduced to a seemingly normal and happy family. It's hinted at that the father writes for a newspaper that covers mysterious killings and disappearances in the area. We also are introduced to Aunt Yakbun, who asks the father to take in a young man for a few days. After a wedding celebration, the family is pulled over at a road block. What seemed to be a routine stop turns into the brutal, heartless murder of the parents, leaving two small children and an infant as orphans.

Aunt Yakbun cares for the children until she has to leave to get transport tickets for the children to flee to Sweden. She never returns. The following scenes are hard to watch, let alone hard to even imagine. The oldest, a girl named Gülîstan, can't be older than 10. She does more talking through her eyes than she does her voice.
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An admirable film, both in intent and execution, but one which somehow never had the devastating impact on me it's tragic story would seem to deserve.

Part of a long line of films showing the incredible hardships kids who are orphaned and left to the streets face (e.g. 'Pixote') in this case there is a powerful political facet as well. A middle- class Kurdish journalist and his wife are gunned down in front of their young children (a boy, a girl and an infant) by Turkish paramilitary troops seemingly bent on silencing political opposition. The children are left to fend for themselves, ending up out on the street before long. They are ignored by most before finally settling in with some other street kids, and a prostitute who treats the young girl with kindness. This leads to a plot twist I won't give away here, but one with considerable punch.

So why wasn't I more blown away by this well-meaning film? I think it's because I felt a sense of slickness and manipulation. The film is shot with a certain reserve. Instead of hand-held camera, or a feeling of verite, there's a distance in the pretty, but almost Hollywood like cinematography. Unlike 'Pixote' or DeSica's best work, I could feel the strings being pulled, and so found my heart resisting. Also, while the 10 year old Senay Orak is truly amazing as the sister, much of the other acting in the film feels stiff and unnatural. I was always aware I was watching a movie, not real life.

I feel awful not loving the film more. It's heart is surely in the right place in bringing a tragic social and political situation to light. I wish it could have moved me to the tears it seemed trying so hard – too hard – to do. None-the-less, it's good enough that I would urge people to see it and judge for themselves.
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