A harmless looking middle aged fortune teller (Serra Yılmaz )
arrives at the swanky apartment of bohemian actress Deniz (İrem
Altuğ) who lives with her lesbian lover Dr Sema (İdil Fırat). Over
a cup of homemade Turkish coffee the fortune teller turns out to be
a vengeful grandmother who is seeking justice for the death of her
granddaughter. She believes her death occured through the neglect
of Dr Sema and a cover up by the hospital prevented a proper
investigation. She drugs the actress and when the caretaker (Erdem
Akakçe) comes to her rescue and her partner arrives home from her
shift they all end up as prisoners at gunpoint.
As the night draws in each character reveals themselves to be
someone other than who they present to the world, and we realize
that nobody is innocent and that each person has been lying to each
other in some way.
Nar is the Turkish word for pomegranate. In the Qur'an the
pomegranate represents a symbol of goodness and it is thought that
Eve was tempted by a pomegranate not an apple in the Garden of
Eden. The pomegranate has been said to have healing powers.
Images of the pomegranate being smashed or the seeds being laid out
are used as punctuation in the film possibly as a metaphor for the
fallibility of human nature and the shattering of our own delusions
Director Ümit Ünal is prominent and award-winning in Turkey
today. His first feature film, 9 was the Official Turkish Entry in
2003 for the Oscars as Best Foreign Language Film.
In Nar he has made a film in which lesbian central characters
are presented in a non-stereotypical yet challenging way. This is
no Hollywood coming out story and the lesbians could have easily
been cast as a male/female couple in that there are no grand
statements about homophobia and anxiety about their sexuality -
they just happen to be lesbian. Indeed as the film progresses we
see that Deniz is shocked to learn that her "right on/PC" doctor
lover is not as charitable as she thought. And we also learn that
Dr Sema resents her younger actress lover who she accuses of
freeloading off her, while she herself has to deal with the harsh
reality of being a woman working in the hostile patriarchal medical
Turkey - founded in its contemporary incarnation in 1923 - is
the only Muslim country where it is legal to be lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender. However LGBT people still face
discrimination and persecution from families and the government.
Turkish lesbians face dual discrimination as women, and being
queer, and often have to experience what Adrienne Rich coined
"compulsory heterosexuality" through forced marriages or
There have not been many Turkish films featuring lead lesbian
characters. In 1963 Atif Yilmaz, 'enfant terrible' of Turkish
filmmaking showed two actresses (Suzan Avci and Sevda) French
kissing in Iki Gemi Yanyana (Two Ships, Side by Side). He followed
that in 1992 with Dus Gezginleri (Walking After Midnight), a film
that explored jealousy and rage between two doomed lesbian
Nar shows that men can make intelligent films about lesbians.
However at times the idiosyncratic editing and shooting do not give
enough tension for this thriller to have you on the edge of your
seat. This was like one of the pomegranates you buy hoping it will
be ripe and juicy but Nar is somehow just not sweet enough.
The Turkish Film Festival runs from 24 November - 8 December.
For tickets click here
Turkish LGBT info Blog
Turkish gay culture website
Compulsory heterosexuality - Adrienne Rich