Off-White Tulips


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"Thought-provoking throughout."

Aykan Safoglu's film refuses easy classification; it's densely intertextual, multitextural, steeped in the contextual; touching on a variety of politics, some sexual.

It is intensely autobiographic and deeply biographic, drawing inspiration from the time that polymath and activist James Baldwin spent in Istanbul. There are layers here, layers upon layers - photographs in time tracking a mother's progress towards blonde hair, a shot through a viewfinder of a photograph upon a page that has been ripped from a book, all in a film that is itself in part inspired by another film, Sedat Pakay's From Another Place.

Its complexity is well served by almost flawless subtitling, no mean feat given that it's a portrait of lived experience from Germany by way of Turkey which has as its ostensible focus an expatriate from New York's time in Istanbul. Juggling languages and borders is difficult enough, but conveying a sense of the proximate other as efficiently and entertainingly across them requires real skill.

There's a discussion early on of white-balance, and then tulips, and history, geography, politics, and scores of other things that run back and forth and around and weave something compelling, convincing, commendable. More importantly it speaks to nationality and sexuality, of childhood and compulsory military service, the emigre experience and yet more. It seems fair to call it a film essay, indeed, it's near enough to identify it as anything else, and it's a good, even great one. It's ludic in places (there's colouring-in!) and thought-provoking throughout, existing in a web of intersections that draws the viewer in and holds them.

Reviewed on: 14 Feb 2014
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Complex storytelling inspired by James Baldwin's adventures in Istanbul.

Director: Aykan Safoglu

Year: 2013

Runtime: 18 minutes

Country: Turkey, Germany


Glasgow 2014

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