A film by Gürcan Keltek
2018, 34 minutes
No. 218


Set against the backdrop of the most violent period of post-Republic Turkey, Gulyabani from acclaimed filmmaker Gurcan Keltek (Meteors) tells the harrowing story of Fethiye Sessiz, a famous clairvoyant from İzmir, Turkey.

Through her diary entries and letters to her estranged son, the film relays her survival from abuse, kidnapping and violence. As Sessiz recounts her story in a hypnotic voiceover, stark, desaturated images of trees and water blend into footage of the Anatolian desert, ancient religious sites, and elliptical reenactments of Sessiz’s childhood memories.

Blending documentary and experimental fiction, Sessiz’s memories are interspersed with short texts from Terry Eagleton and W.G. Sebald. The film’s ominous imagery draws in richly coloured shots of the Turkish landscape and found Super 8 footage, eventually giving way to an unforgettable final sequence of increasingly abstract monochromatic images where memories of the future and fragments of the past converge.

Winner, Special Jury Mention, Montreal International Documentary Festival
Winner, Best International Short, Reykjavik International Film Festival
Official Selection, Locarno International Film Festival
Official Selection, International Film Festival Rotterdam
Official Selection, Viennale

“Keltek has crafted a dark and dazzling 35-minue journey into Turkey’s post-Republic political landscape...  Shifting deftly from personal-poetic rumination to allegorical horror to out-and-out abstraction, Gulybani stages a bracing historical intervention through an inspired combination of aesthetic elements and narrative devices” — Jordan Cronk, The Brooklyn Rail

“After Meteors in 2017, the Turkish director brings us to a zone of discomfort, tracing the life of a seer, in a cinematic tour de force that overwhelmed by its beauty and reflexive tone.” — Daniel Ribas, Senses of Cinema

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