Turkey, Germany


Yusuf (6) has started primary school and is learning how to read and write. His father, Yakup (35), works far in the depths of a frightening forest. He is a honey-gatherer who hangs his hand-made beehives in the upper branches of tall trees in the forest. The forest is a place of mystery for Yusuf, who often accompanies his father. One morning Yusuf describes the dream he had seen that night to his father. This dream is to be an ever-lasting secret between the father and the son. On that same day, as Yusuf struggles to read before his entire classmates the text the teacher has given him, he begins suddenly to stutter and is ridiculed by his classmates. Yakup goes to a distant forest, looking for the Caucasian bees which seem to be mysteriously disappearing. His father gone, Yusuf slips into silence. Yusuf’s mother, Zehra (28), who works in the tea fields, is saddened to see her son in this state. No matter how much she tries, she cannot get her son to speak. Days pass and Zehra and Yusuf becomes anxious when Yakup doesn’t return. They fail to find Yakup at the festival being held on Sis (mist) Mountain. Yusuf goes deep into the forest to search for his father. Will the dream he has seen come true?

Director's Statement

BAL is the third film in my "Yusuf Trilogy." The idea of the "Yusuf Trilogy" took form while I was revising a script which I had written long ago and which was more or less the story of university aged Yusuf in SÜT (Milk). While I was elaborating on the character of Yusuf, I started to think about this young man's future as an adult (YUMURTA/Egg) and his past as a young boy (BAL/Honey). Those ideas helped shape the trilogy. I started with YUMURTA (Egg), maybe because I wanted to peel down the character slowly and reach his core. The trilogy could be considered an extensive flashback. However, they are not period films. All take place in the present day amidst various places, relations and economic standards in Turkey. I have been asked if all three Yusuf characters are indeed the same man. I choose not to answer so as not to disclose the secrets of the character, the direct and indirect relationship between the films, the mysteries to the films. I drew on my own past experiences while shaping the character of Yusuf. So we can say that Yusuf has parts from me. I referred to my own youth and childhood while writing the three scripts and I believe I was able to handle the issues about Yusuf’s life, troubles and quests realistically. My own childhood served as a point of reference for the script of BAL (Honey) as well. My troubles at school while trying to learn how to read and write, my questions which grown-ups left unanswered, the intense cruelty and richness of nature... In a way, a child forms his personality while discovering the world with curiosity. An occasional misunderstanding leading to naïve mistakes, dreams, joys and sorrows allows him to reach the truth. I hope BAL (Honey) allows us to reach the truth of Yusuf.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Semih Kaplanoğlu

Written by: Semih Kaplanoğlu, Orcun Koksal

Produced by: Semih Kaplanoğlu, Bettina Brokemper, Johannes Rexin

Cinematography: Barış Özbiçer

Editing: Semih Kaplanoğlu, Ayhan Ergürsel, S. Hande Guneri

Production Design: Naz Erayda

Cast: Bora Altaş, Erdal Beşikçioğlu, Tülin Özen

Nominations and Awards

  • European Director 2010
  • European Cinematographer – Prix Carlo Di Palma 2010
  • European Film 2010
  • Feature Film Selection 2010