Abluka

Turkey, France, Qatar 2015

Synopsis

Istanbul is in the grip of political violence. The state uses new underground techniques in the hunt for terrorists in shantytowns. Kadir works as a garbage collector to search for traces of bomb-making – the price he paid for a secret early parole. He is reunited with his younger brother Ahmet who works for the city as a stray dog exterminator. Despite Kadir’s repeated efforts, Ahmet seems reluctant to develop a deep brotherly bond. Escalating pressure from the authorities creates suspicion and mistrust. Kadir’s misplaced desires lead to irrational jealousy, and Ahmet becomes strangely attached to a wounded dog. As it becomes obvious that Ahmet is avoiding him, Kadir concocts conspiracy theories to explain his behaviour. There’s no escape from the suffocating atmosphere that can turn friends into enemies. Their frenzied paranoia can only lead to destruction ...

Directors Statement

FRENZY takes place in a city which is driven into political chaos. The state hopelessly fights against the terrorists based in shanty towns. When techniques of isolation and segregation of these neighbourhoods does not work out, the state invents new methods. FRENZY is the story of two brothers who try to survive in such a neighbourhood. It tells how the political system turns “little men” into parts of its violent mechanism by providing them with authority and the instruments of violence, which in the end turn against themselves and lead to their destruction.
In FRENZY, I observe “little men” as both the tools and the victims of systematic violence. Kadir is an informer who has the power to end someone’s life through intelligence. Ahmet is a stray dog exterminator, a metaphor and parallel image of a terrorist hunter. Whether their methods of violence are directed at stray dogs or terrorists, these men follow orders – whether to fulfil their dreams or just to make a living. They are indifferent to the effects of their instruments. However, they cannot escape from the suffocating affects of the political atmosphere. The surrounding violence and the pressure from their authorities drive them more and more paranoid. The outcome of their paranoia is deadly, because of the weapons they have.
What triggers the events in the film is the emotional disturbance experienced by the brothers due to some narrative shifts. These shifts are the turning of an enemy into a friend for Ahmet, and the turning of friends into enemies for Kadir. In FRENZY, we see that an enemy can be a close friend, while a close friend can become an enemy. I see this distinction almost coincidental. Ahmet’s need to earn a living makes him a dog killer. Kadir’s dream to recreate a family life makes him an informer. Ahmet’s vicious loneliness creates an intimate friend out of his enemy dog, while a friend of Kadir’s and his object of desire become deadly enemies. The sturdy logic of violence destroys all of the intimate bonds among these people and creates alienated political opponents. The lines between enemy and friend can be coincidental, but they are very strong. That’s why Kadir and Ahmet cannot cope with the situation, when the characters shift from one side to the other.
The characters in the film are not simply tools of the system or the victims of a violent atmosphere. They make some choices and have responsibilities, which for me bring the film closer to the form of tragedy. The characters are vulnerable, they have weaknesses that lead them to the tragic ends.
Ahmet’s need of affection forces him to build a perverse relationship with Coni, the dog. The fear of losing him drives him paranoid. Kadir’s needs of love and affection also have a trigger effect. His endeavour to gain Ahmet’s love, his envy of his lost brother Veli, his desire for Meral and his jealousy of Ahmet, all feed Kadir’s paranoia. So not only the political atmosphere and the authorities or the shifts of friends into enemies, but also the emotional weaknesses of the characters are responsible for the tragic end.
I don’t pinpoint when FRENZY takes place in time. It could be a fictitious present, past or future ... My inspirations are from the numerous violent histories of the modern world. This film has been long waiting to be realised. I started thinking about it in the early 2000s. Its first draft was written in the late 2000s. Despite the passing of time, the story’s relevancy increased as politics in Turkey stubbornly stuck to old means. When I first thought about the story in the early 2000s, the ‘organization’ that the state was waging a war against was influenced from the Marxist and ethnic separatist guerrilla movements, which were active from Latin America to Asia in the 20th century. As we entered the 21st century, first the 9/11 attack, then the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, created a new global context to think about the trajectories and perpetrators of political violence. And in recent years the wave of uprisings and revolutions, which are not limited to Arab Spring, have furthermore justified the critique of violence in my film. As of now, once again in human history how to deal with political violence is a pressing question for all of us.

Biography

Born in 1974, Emin Alper was trained in economics and history and holds a Ph.D in Modern Turkish History. His first feature, BEYOND THE HILL (2012), received numerous awards, including the Caligari Film Prize from the Berlin IFF; it was named Best Film in the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. He teaches in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department at Istanbul Technical University.

Filmography
2012 BEYOND THE HILL
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Cast & Crew

Directed by : Emin Alper

Written by : Emin Alper

Produced by : Nadir Öperli, Cem Doruk, Enis Köstepen

Director of Photography : Adam Jandrup

Editor : Osman Bayraktaroglu

Production Design : Ismail Durmaz

Costume Design : Nurten Tinel

Hair & Make up Artist : Mediha Safak, Aysegül Sahin

Composer : Cevdet Erek

Sound Design : Cevdet Erek, Cenker Kökten

Main Cast : Mehmet Özgür (Kadir), Berkay Ates (Ahmet)

Nominations and Awards

  • EFA Selection 2016