TIFF 2018: Our Review of ‘Sibel’

TIFF 2018: Our Review of ‘Sibel’

Sibel is vibrant as it depicts the coexistence of nature and militarism within a small mountainous Turkish village. We see this through the eyes of the titular character (Damla Sonmez) who whistles because she can’t speak.

Reinforcing the militarism are the village’s patriarchal and matriarchal societies that have influenced Sibel’s active life and obsessions. She got her hunting skills from her father Emin (Emin Gursoy) who treats her like a favourite.

The women, however, work with her in the neighboring fields yet do not want to be around her. Even her sister Fatma (Elit Iscan) avoid her, and that’s one of her many methods to fit in.

Sibel leaves her family behind to hunt for a wolf or to care for old Narin (Meral Cetinkaya). But she gets another reason when she meets Ali (Erkan Kolcak Kostendil), who the police are looking for.

Somnez gives one of the year’s best performances as Sibel, giving a physicality that the role simply demands. It will be easy for audiences to believe that she’s lived a life climbing that village’s rough terrain.

And Cagla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti wrote a character who is innately interesting because of Sibel’s mobility. Watching her convinces audiences that if she isn’t free yet, she can weave through life like she is.

Zencirci and Giovanetti also do justice to the local terrain which, really, is difficult not to mess up. Their depiction of Turkey’s forests energize the audience as a place where Sibel can thrive and successfully conquer.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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