Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

The continuing clash of tradition and modernity is well-explored in cinema. Cycle approaches it with confidence and assurance from the image in the first shot - a deer with antlers made from wood. It's an arresting start.

A agricultural village celebrates its traditions annually with a festival where the hard-workers can let off some steam. It comes with celebrations, a concert, shared food and water-fights, dunking one another in a nearby pool. At the festival's centre is a highly-prized sheep-washing competition (don't laugh). The contest requires a special rock from a nearby quarry to make a good red dye. It's a smart ritual - and director Dervis Zaim's choice of shots and editorial structure emphasise this is a Big Deal for the farmers. It looks as though they've been doing it for generations, and there is some gentle humour as the film explores the different methods employed. The film's authenticity marries well to the witty storytelling.

Copy picture

It's a film that's full of visual life, amid the arid, hard surroundings. It's well composed and photographed without being showy. The editing is fluid and keeps the narrative straightforward and characters prominent.

We're introduced to a collection of memorable people and their occupations. The elderly prize sheep-washer explicitly understands his shepherd job and place in the world, but has little time for how the TV works - a shop owner remarks: "All you know is how to herd sheep". We also meet a frustrated shepherd, eager to leave the village and seek his fortune in the city. He never forgets the superstitions and comfort-giving rituals of his peers.

It's a cyclical story, as the title suggests. With the passing years, the modern world slowly, almost invisibly sinks its talons into the community. The city shepherd works at a halal abattoir, turning the rural meat-production into a huge, unfeeling assembly line. There, he gets ripped off by the boss, who cites "statutory deductions". A news radio show in the background highlights concerns about genetically modified feed linked to livestock birth deformities. On returning to the quarry for more red dye, the shepherds find a newly constructed fence shoved up by bureaucrats in the way; their efforts to find a substitute in the city turn the sheep bright pink.

Cycle is ultimately an engaging and pleasant show of conservatism and tradition. It depicts the continuing clash of the modern and traditional, and the slow march of time. In the denouement, we revisit a stunning visual metaphor. It's a haunting, sorrowful and arresting way to finish.

Reviewed on: 26 Jun 2013
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After failing to win a sheep washing competition, a young shepherd considers life in the city.

Director: Dervis Zaim

Starring: Ali Özel, Mustafa Salman, Ramazan Bayar

Year: 2012

Runtime: 76 minutes

Country: Turkey


EIFF 2013

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