Many American teenagers these days have it easy. Apart from the grueling hours spent sleepwalking around our high schools, we lead cushy lives with video games, junk food, and (if it’s your thing) friends. We take for granted our families, the work that goes in to buying our food, and even how the food is prepared. Our biggest worry in life is not when we are going to next be fed.
If only Jin’s problems were this mundane.
Set in the mountains of the Turkish countryside, Reha Erdem’s masterpiece follows the teenage Jin as she escapes her duty as a Kurdish freedom fighter in search of a better life across the border. As she journeys across the country, she must battle with government, man, and nature to pursue her dream, each obstacle proving her perseverance. Without friends, family, or protection, the young Jin relies on herself with a maturity that is acquired only after having passed through extreme suffering and come through victorious, and stronger.
Deniz Hasguler, who plays Jin, portrays with piquant detail the trauma of the movie. As the only major character, Jin entraps the audience with her dreams and ambitions, the same that many of us have, that spur her to rebel against the rebels and seek out her future. The stalwart composure retained throughout most of the movie is inspiration, especially in the face of such adversity. As she is continually thwarted, however, it is the breaking down of this composure, when the fissures finally appear in the concrete bastion she has erected around herself, that the audience truly connects.
The audience feels a connection to Jin as she struggles or, as is better put, dominates the Turkish countryside. The words are few, and the action intermittent. Yet the little plot lines that fill up the two-hour movie give Jin the opportunity to prove herself as an independent woman capable of immense ferocity but also intense compassion. It is in this that she shows her nature of character, her indomitable resolve and resilience, and hope. The darkness of the movie, expertly shot by SIFF veteran Reha Erdem, provides a beautiful backdrop to the piercing storyline of Jin’s escape. But however hopeless the situation seems to be, Erdem’s film provides moments of relief by befriending the nature that supports the scenery. Animals, also forced to live in the world hunted by men, seem to commiserate with the girl, as if their common suffering has bound them.
Erdem is no novice to film, as evidenced by the mastery displayed in Jin. Movies are stories that serve to inspire us, to bring outside viewpoints into our life so that we may experience the lives of others to give us more perspective into our own; Jin is certainly no exception. By living through Jin, we are prepared to conquer the world on our own.
Jin plays Thursday, May 23rd at 3:30 PM at SIFF Cinema Uptown
For more info go here