In the spectacular Cappadocia Mountains of Anatolia, where the roads appear to be no more than scratches on the mountainsides, tradition still has a strong hold. Nurhan and Havva have returned to their father and the familial home in an isolated village, having failed for various reasons to make a go of living in the city as ‘besleme’ (fostered and employed by wealthy urbanites) following the death of their mother. Eldest sister Reyhan is already back home, nursing a city-conceived baby and forced into a ‘cover-up’ marriage with a local simpleton shepherd. All three are itching for another chance of escape, and the news that well-to-do Mr Necati might be willing to offer just that brings full-blown sibling rivalry to the fore. But while their relationship is characterised by much spirited bickering, the fundamental solidarity of the three sisters shines through.
Emin Alper’s hugely-lauded third feature, delivered like a centuries-old folk tale narrated by a campfire storyteller, will be a delightful discovery for Western audiences. There’s some shocking tragedy here but the tale is leavened by lighter comedic moments and framed by a sense of fatalistic absurdity – expressed in the gleeful somersaults executed by a grizzled old woman! The cinematography vividly captures the austere natural beauty as well as the rich detail of these remote rustic lives, and the music is wonderful.
A Tale of three Sisters has won 17 domestic and international awards, including the Grand Prix, Balkan Competition, at the Sofia International Film Festival 2020, Best Director at the Sarajevo Film Festival 2019 and five wins at the Istanbul International Film Festival 2019, including the FIPRESCI prize – “For the human complexity of the story, for the balance between drama and humour, for strong cinematic language.” The film was also nominated in two categories for the Golden Bear at Berlin 2019.
“Sometimes, a film entrances so entirely that its plot matters little. This is the case with Turkish drama A Tale of Three Sisters … Each performance is perfectly judged and brimming with life… a beautiful, satisfying experience.” - Carmen Paddock, One Room With A View.
“Emin Alper’s A Tale of Three Sisters is a unique work that deftly blends Chekhov and the Brothers Grimm.” - Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter.
“A female recentering of Turkish rural history, a celebration of women’s life force and spirit of resistance.” - Lee Marshall, Screen International.
YourScreen audience comments:
‘Exquisitely beautiful and brilliantly acted. Very moving.’