Sun 29 Sep 2019

HFM Selection 2019: Oil

LA-based Turkish director Ayse Altinok is attending Utrecht with her HFM project OIL. The sensitive coming of age film is produced by Raymond Van Der Kaaij and Kirsu Saivosalmi of Revolver Amsterdam with Kinology (France) attached for sales. Ayse is represented by UTA Talent Agency for her film work and Ridley Scott Creative Amsterdam for commercial content.

In OIL, the adolescent Kris, son of a Rotterdam-based Turkish mother and a Dutch father, is sent to his grandparents in Turkey after he commits a criminal act. There, he meets the shy young Bora who introduces him to traditional oil wrestling, a discipline which is admired for its high degree of masculinity. But when Kris discovers that Bora is gay he is forced overcome an inherent sense of discrimination to stand up for something he eventually feels to be right.

Altinok identifies very closely with the largely émigré Turkish community in The Netherlands while acknowledging the very different route she took to the Dutch mainland, where she remained for ten years. The community in her film are descended from the wave of immigrants who met Holland’s labour workforce requirements in the 1970s. She, on the other hand, studied design in Istanbul and come to Amsterdam to join a leading agency.

“Nevertheless I wanted to write about being a foreigner and trying to find your identity in a foreign land, which is a very common subject but my experience was different. I wanted to tell the story of a person stuck between cultures, trying to work out who he is.”

The decision to send Kris to Turkey is correctional, Altinok underlines. “His father is not a great father figure, so Kris is kind of torn between good and bad, and because of that his mother is trying hold everything [together] and raise the boy alone, so that is quite a task… It is more of a punishment so he can learn to see the world from a different perspective. That is what his mother is trying to do, and while he is there even if he refuses to learn he obviously does learn at the end. The other boy (Bora) opens his eyes in an effortless way, and this whole story is about their effortless friendship that opens up doors.”

Written by Nick Cunningham