This afternoon in Sala Truffaut the jurors of the Generator+13 section watched the competing film GUILT directed by Turkish director Ümran Safter.
This afternoon in Sala Truffaut the jurors of the Generator+13 section watched the competing film GUILT directed by Turkish director Ümran Safter. The story set in a small village in Anatolia centers on the lives of two young girls, Reyhan and Sukran, grappling with problems related to their home culture. While the first tries to rebel against everything imposed by patriarchy, which is oppressing the lives of Turkish women. The second follows its dictates, although she has committed an even greater sin: having made love to a boy who has left for the military and with whom she fears she has become pregnant.
Reyhan together with her mother Hatice and brother Mehmet decide to spend their summer vacation in a village belonging to central Anatolia, in which her deeply conservative and religious grandmother Ummu lives. Important to her survival in this place light years away from the Istanbul metropolis is the figure of her aunt, who represents the resistance against her grandmother. Staying in that place, being hated by all the inhabitants but firmly convinced of her own ideas, for Reyhan is confirmation of how right it is to continue to fight for these ideals.
The teenager tired of the backward talk that women are willing to give, becomes more and more impatient every day. Changing her temper even more is the arrival of her first menstruation, the timing of which by older women is seen as something deeply negative. The little girl goes to great lengths not to admit that she is menstruating, for fear that she may fall victim to the typical religious rituals that the village women perform.
Reyhan, in her aunt, finds her model of inspiration, for the rebellion against traditional values, which she has been carrying out for years. The teenager has clear ideas for her future: she wants to study, to go to the big city, and she wants to work and not be imprisoned in the village.
Presenting the film in competition in front of the jurors of the Generator+13 section came Turkish director Ümran Safter, who explained that this story was the result of a chat with some girls who still live there today. That village, which seems to belong to an era far removed from our own, is actually the director’s own village of origin, including the house that is seen throughout the film.
“I decided to shoot this film in 2020, when I returned to the village. I started filming in 2023 and the shooting took three weeks. It was difficult to shoot, because bad memories surfaced, related to when I was in the village as a young girl with my religious family. I would have liked to forget, but sometimes remembering is important to be able to tell stories like this to the audience,” the director told jurors at the Generator+13 section of the Giffoni Film Festival.
As admitted by the filmmaker herself, “I grew up in that village, that is my home. I know those places and talking about menstruation was taboo when I was 14-15 years old. Then 2 or 3 years ago, I went back there and got to talk to some girls. And well, this very topic is still taboo in the village. Some girls told me that for when they buy tampons, the pharmacist puts them inside black envelopes, so they cannot see the contents.”
One anecdote in the film, depicted very strongly, is the dialogue the little girl has with her mother Hatice about the arrival of her first period. The director confessed that: “When menstruation comes for the first time, the mother and grandmother, they used to slap the face of the girl.” A very questionable practice and devoid of any logical sense. To this point, Safter also added, “Today there is no longer this gesture, used to punish girls whose periods come.”
In conclusion,what was really interesting was the lack of representation of men on stage – except on very rare occasions – to emphasize how much patriarchy is present in the minds and behaviors of women.