The search for freedom, the discovery of sexuality and the patriarchal stratification of society. This thread – sometimes fragile, sometimes very strong, deep-rooted, and unbreakable – holds Elaha’s everyday life, her friendships, family, and relationships. The main character’s name is also the name of the sixth film in competition for the Generator +18 category.
The search for freedom, the discovery of sexuality and the patriarchal stratification of society. This thread – sometimes fragile, sometimes very strong, deep-rooted, and unbreakable – holds Elaha‘s everyday life, her friendships, family, and relationships. The main character’s name is also the name of the sixth film in competition for the Generator +18 category. The protagonist is a young Kurdish-German woman torn between her unconditional love for her family and her aspirations. She enjoys having fun with her friends and taking care of her younger brother, but it is not easy to fight patriarchy and be, at the same time, the perfect daughter. “Elaha” offers a psychological journey about emancipation. “Only by facing reality we can remain true to ourselves.” This is the message of director Milena Aboyan and this is the thoughts of many young jurors who crowded Sala Galileo. Not only sexual freedom: the film is not only that but much more. It is above all the fear of being judged and expelled out of the community. All the girls talk about it but are afraid of being found out. And Elaha – despite her strong desire for emancipation, her part-time job in a laundry, the job interviews she attends – cannot escape the tradition, the conventions of her patriarchal society. She goes so far as to say to her friends, “Why isn’t our vagina German?” They answer her, “Our whole body is Kurdish, our blood is Kurdish.” It is not just an anatomical response but a social and cultural one. Elaha who cannot even freely dance at a wedding because they tell her “to be more composed,” Elaha who receives “a checkup” from her boyfriend to see if she has been with other men in the meantime and why she decided to dance without permission. She is at a crossroads. She decides to have sex but then is assailed by a voice that is not guilt but the weight of traditions. She thinks about an operation for “membrane reconstruction,” but has no money, so asks for help in a counseling center that is willing to do it for free. At the time of the interview, though, she is asked the following question: “Are you aware, do you know what you are going to get into? Does your boyfriend care about his own virginity?” The answer, “I love my family and traditions but I fear of being an outcast even though I don’t agree with their rules.” She confronts her mother: “What if I no longer had my virtue between my legs?” The answer, “I would rather die.” Elaha loses control: self-harm, and then hospital. Then the routine comes back, the daily struggle with her questions. One question from her pregnant teacher gives her the right motivation. “I used to feel watched and controlled. I stopped feeling judged when I asked myself: are you the woman you wanted to be?” It is the question that changes her life and guides her new choices.
“Throughout the film I felt anguish and even discomfort as a woman,” says a juror, “I noticed a strong use of the color teal and then the rejection of a dress in the same color. When she began to feel free to express herself to the fullest, the color changed, moving toward the light blue.” “You were right,” the producer replied to her, “this color is typical of Kurdish culture. Elaha goes on a journey in her culture and the color is changed proportionately with the change she faces.” Is there a reason why the director turned the spotlight specifically on Kurdish culture? The answer: “The director is Armenian and moved to Germany as a young girl. With her film she also wants to explain that within German culture there are other cultures that are no longer alien but an integral part of this country’s culture. It is a film about a specific culture but we all come across rules that we sometimes do not understand .”