In the early 2000s, a handful of peasant women from the mountains of southern Turkey formed a theater group, which later became the subject of the documentary, The Play. The women acted out their own life stories in the village, and the play changed their lives.
Now, they take to the road with an adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, traveling the dusty, dangerous roads to the farthest-ﬂung mountain villages where there isn’t even running water.
On the road, their lives merge with the world of King Lear and become bound up with “the good and the bad”, “the young and the old”, “the rich and the poor”, “the honest and the dishonest” of the play.
SREENINGS & AWARDS
2019 World Premiere: Sarajevo Film Festival – Competion Programme – Documentary Film
- 2019 26. International Adana Golden Boll Film Festival, Turkey (National Premiere)
- 2019 Başka Sinema Ayvalık Film Festival, Turkey
- 2019 56. Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Turkey
- 2020 This Human World 12. International Human Rights Film Festival
- 2020 FIPADOC International Documentary Festival, France
- 2020 43. Göteborg Film Festival, Sweden (Nordic Premiere: Five Continents)
- 2020 35. DOK.fest München
- 2020 23rd Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival, Turkey
- 2020 28th Barcelona International Women’s Film Festival, Spain
- 2020 18th Filmmor Women’s Film Festival Online, Turkey
- 2020 23rd Maine International Film Festival, United States (North American Premiere)
- 2020 15th South East European Film Festival Los Angeles, United States
- 2020 Orient Express Filmtage Bern, Switzerland
- 2020 Paris Turkish Film Festival, France
- 2020 MESA2020 FilmFest
- 2020 PROVINZIALE – Filmfest Eberswalde
- 2020 Millenium Documentary Film Festival
- 2020 PriMed
- 2020 Seattle Turkish Film Festival
- 2021 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
- 2021 FIFA Montreal
More: Thin Line Texas, Festival de Cinéma Méditerranéen de Tétouan, Sebastopol DFF, Grand Bivouac Albertville, Elles Tournent – Dames Draaien Festival
Upcoming: Beyond Borders, International Documentary Film Festival of Castellorizo island (August 20-27)
- Best Music Award, Yılmaz Güney Award and SİYAD “Cüneyt Cebenoyan” Best Film Award at Adana International Film Festival, September 2019
- Best Documentary Award at the South East European Film Festival Los Angeles, United States, July 2020
- Best Feature Documentary Award at 52nd SİYAD Awards (Turkish Film Critics Association Awards), Turkey, August 2020
- Audience Award at PROVINZIALE – Filmfest Eberswalde
- Art, Heritage and Cultures of the Mediterranean Prize at PriMed 2020
- Nominee for Special Jury Prize at Golden Kapok Award Competition, GZDOC 2020
- Grand Prize at Festival International du Film sur l’Art 2021
- Grand Prix de la ville de Tétouan, Festival de Cinéma Méditerranéen de Tétouan 2021
- Best Feature Film Award at Sebastopol DFF 2021
‘If you can harvest, you can act’: this powerful phrase from the Arslankoy Theatre group actresses brought us back to the essence of theatre, and made us remember that art can be a tool for revolution, inside and out. Discovering how being part of a feminist theatre troupe empowers them, gives them self-esteem and a feeling of driving their own destiny was magnificent to watch. These women act on their dreams and become models for future generations. The Grand Jury Prize is given to Queen Lear, directed by Pelin Esmer.
- 02.11.2019 Manifold – Feride Çiçekoğlu / “Kraliçe Lear”
- 16.11.2019 Evrensel – Şenay Aydemir / “Oyun’a devam…”
- 16.11.2019 İleri Haber – Kaya Özkaracalar / “Kraliçe Lear”
- 17.11.2019 T24 – Atilla Dorsay / “Shakespeare oynayan Toros’lu köylü kadınların hikayesi”
- 20.11.2019 Cumhuriyet – Emrah Kolukısa / “Kraliçeler yolda”
- 22.11.2019 Cumhuriyet – Sungu Çapan / ” ‘Oyun’un devamı ‘Kraliçe Lear’ gösterimde”
- 23.11.2019 Orta Koltuk – Kamuran Kaya / “Kraliçe Lear”
- 25.11.2019 İZGAZETE – Batıgün Sarıkaya / “Hayata oyunla bakmak”
- 04.05.2020 Maviblau – Seda Sina / “Wenn fünf Schauspielerinnen „King Lear“ zu „Queen Lear“ machen”
- 07.06.2020 Yeni Film – Pınar Öğünç / “Kraliçe Lear: ‘Bizim köyde özgüvene arsızlık derler.’”
- 29.06.2020 Gazete Pencere – Erhan Karadağ / “Kraliçe Lear”
- 15.04.2022 The Guardian
- 13.09.2019 BirGün – İmran Gökçe Şahin / ” Pelin Esmer’le Kraliçe Lear’ı konuştuk: ‘Kurtarıcı bekleyen’ kadın hikayesi değil”
- 01.11.2019 Altyazı – Aslı Ildır / “Shakespeare’in Keyfini Çıkarmak”
- 04.11.2019 TimeOut – Onur Aymete / “Turneye davetlisiniz”
- 14.11.2019 T24 – Muammer Brav / “Köyde tiyatro yapan kadınların öyküsü Kraliçe Lear’dan; Suç ve Ceza Film Festivali’ne: Ekşın’da bu hafta”
- 14.11.2019 Woman TV – Aslı Öymen’le Yaşasın Sanat / “Kral Lear Toroslar’da Nasıl Kraliçe Lear’a Dönüştü” Part 1
- 14.11.2019 Woman TV – Aslı Öymen’le Yaşasın Sanat / ” Toroslar’da Bir Avuç Kadının Öyküsü: Kraliçe Lear” Part 2
- 15.11.2019 NTV – Gülay Afşar – Gece Gündüz / “Pelin Esmer ”Kraliçe Lear”ı Gece Gündüz’de anlattı”
- 16.11.2019 Hürriyet Cumartesi – Uğur Vardan / ” ‘Oyun’dan ‘Kraliçe Lear’e…”
- 16.11.2019 Filmloverss – Murat Emir Eren, Güvenç Atsüren / “Pelin Esmer ile Kraliçe Lear’a Dair”
- 18.11.2019 Milliyet – Burçin S. Yalçın / “Sanat herkese iyi gelir”
- 19.11.2019 GazeteKadıköy – Gökçe Uygun / “Kraliçe Lear Umut Verecek”
- 01.12.2019 Bir Artı Bir – Ayşegül Oğuz, Yiğit Atılgan / “Kader, kısmet, Shakespeare’deki hikmet”
- 26.01.2020 RFI – Siegfried Forster / “Fipadoc: ‘Queen Lear’, quand une paysanne turque devient roi”
DIRECTOR’S BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
Pelin Esmer, writer & director of both fiction and documentary films, studied sociology and afterwards moved on to cinema. She established her film company Sinefilm and since 2001 she has made her independent films “The Collector”, “The Play”, “10 to 11”, “Watchtower”, “Something Useful” and “Queen Lear” together with her producer friends Nida Karabol, Tolga Esmer and Dilde Mahalli.
A feature documentary, “The Play” made its international premiere in San Sebastian Film Festival. It has been screened over 50 festivals around the world and received many awards including “The Best New Documentary Filmmaker Award” in Tribeca Film Festival. Her first fiction “10 to 11” was one of the six projects chosen by Cannes Film Festival’s Résidence du Cinéfondation in Paris where she worked on the script.
An official selection of San Sebastian Film Festival, “10 to 11” received many awards in various festivals around the world and was released in cinemas in Turkey, France and Germany. Her second fiction “Watchtower” which premiered in Toronto and Rotterdam Film Festival has been screened in many countries and five different states of USA as part of the Caravanserai Program.
“Something Useful” received the best screenplay award in Tallinn International Film Festival besides several FIPRESCI awards in Turkey: best director, best screenplay and best actress.
In 2018, Pelin Esmer was invited to Berlin by DAAD Artists-in-Residence Program where she developed her last documetary film “Queen Lear”. Having premiered in Sarajevo Film Festival, “Queen Lear” received Yılmaz Güney Award and SİYAD Cüneyt Cebenoyan Award at Adana Golden Boll Film Festival in Turkey while being screened in oversea festivals.
Pelin Esmer was a guest artist in the residence of Camargo Foundation in Cassis-France between september-november 2019, working on her new project.
2019 “Kraliçe Lear” (Queen Lear) documentary feature, 84’ / writer, director, producer, co-editor
2017 “İşe Yarar Bir Şey” (Something Useful) ﬁction feature, 104’ / co-writer, director, producer, co-editor
2012 “Gözetleme Kulesi” (Watchtower) ﬁction feature, 100’ / writer, director, producer, co-editor
2009 “11e 10 Kala” (10 to 11) ﬁction feature, 110’ / writer, director, producer, editor
2005 “Oyun” (The Play) feature documentary, 70’ / writer, director, producer, camera, editor
2001 “Koleksiyoncu” (The Collector) short documentary, 46’ / writer, director, producer, camera
PRODUCER’S BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
Born (1984) and raised in Istanbul, Dilde Mahalli graduated from Visual Arts and Communication Design and she holds a masters degree in Art And Design from Yıldız Technical University. During her education she participated several group exhibitions and started to make poster design for both theatre plays and ﬁlms. In 2012 she worked as an associate producer in Giyotin Film’s second ﬁction feature “The Impeccables” (2013 – Busan, Antalya, Romanya FF…) which is directed by Ramin Matin. Afterwards, she worked in production of the films “Chronology” (2019 – Busan, Warsaw, Goa, Santa Barbara FF) by Ali Aydın, “Something Useful” (2017 – Tallinn, Istanbul, Goteborg, Seattle FF) and “Queen Lear” (2019- Sarajevo, Adana, Goteborg, Gounzou FF…) by Pelin Esmer. Currenty she’s working on Emine Yıldırım’s debut film “Apollon by day, Athena by Night” and Pelin Esmer’s new fiction film along with her personal and corporate visual art projects.
2022 “Apollon by day, Athena by Night” (working title) fiction, dir: Emine Yıldırım / producer
2021 “Koudelka: Crossing the Same River” documentary, 82’ dir: Coşkun Aşar / co-producer
2019 “Queen Lear” dir: Pelin Esmer documentary , 84’ / producer
2018 “Chronology” dir: Ali Aydın ﬁction , 120’ / executive producer
2017 “Something Useful” dir: Pelin Esmer ﬁction , 104’ / associate producer, international sales
2013 “The Impeccables” dir: Ramin Matin ﬁction , 95’ / associate producer
2013 “Anybody Inside” dir: Eren Gülbey short documentary, 19’ / production consultant
2000 “A Lighthouse in Şile” short documentary, 22’ / writer, director, camera
+90 532 631 5280
Directed by Pelin Esmer
DOP Morteza Atabaki, Pelin Esmer
Sound Recording Hüseyin Can Erol
Sound Design & Mix Kubilay Mustafa Tok
Editor Pelin Esmer, Eren Aksu
Music Barış Diri
The very ﬁrst instinctual temptation for making this ﬁlm came from a very human need; hope. As a ﬁlmmaker to continue to tell stories despite all obstacles and to resist against unfair practices in my country and in the world by continuing to create, I need hope. Despite the actual social and political situation, hearing that there are some people over there insisting to take theatre and cinema to the highest mountains, to the remotest villages did bring me the hope I needed for a long time as an artist and a citizen.
All started when I heard about this exciting new project from Hüseyin Arslanköylü, the high school head master who wrote the play based on the women’s lives years ago when I shot the ﬁlm The Play and who is now the director of the Mersin City Theater. They picked around 30 small and remote villages with populations not bigger than 500. They marked on Google map remote mountain villages and plateaus with nomads’ tents above 2.500 meters of altitude where even water, electricity or roads barely reach. They made up a troupe made of Behiye, Fatma, Zeynep, Cennet, Ümmü- 5 of the women from The Play – a few professional actors, a tea-maker and two drivers from the city theater. They would go to a village every day for a month and turn the village squares to a stage.
The schedule is a Karagöz-Hacivat shadow play for children, a theater play for the grown ups followed by the screening of my documentary The Play. The play would be a traditional, local one from the region and I asked how about an adaptation from Sheakspeare as an addition? The artistic director of the group Ahmet said why not, let’s do King Lear! This made me even more excited. He made such a fun adaptation that is reﬂecting on their own lives. I thought Sheakspeare would love that too! He would even be more excited to see the villagers participating in the play, villagers who barely have water or proper roads to their remote mountain villages. This is the magic of art I said and decided to follow this exciting tour of these peasant women theatre group and make a new ﬁlm with them. To become aware of the existence of people who show the courage of saying to people “you barely have water, we know you also need a decent road but today we brought you art, would you take it?” and the excitement of realizing it, is the very hope that we crave for in this gloom.
The fact that I know these 5 women and Hüseyin very well since we worked together in The Play and our ongoing friendship since 14 years made it even more exciting for me to make this movie of course. They got aged, so did I. Life has left lots of traces on our faces, gestures, words, gazes, laughters, sighs, comments, beliefs… And these traces on our faces and souls always moved me to make cinema. So making a new ﬁlm trying to understand life through these traces besides my wish to ﬂourish the hope they gave me through this ﬁlm are good reasons or better say impulsion to make this ﬁlm.
Finally, having Shakespeare and his play King Lear on my side while trying to understand life on the basis of these great women, gives me additional energy and excitement. It’s good to remember sometimes how universal, unifying and equalizing art can be and that something in life doesn’t change for Shakespeare or for these women.