Three picks from this year's Vancouver Turkish Film Festival

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      Along with a strong program of shorts and its panel discussion on women in film, there are nine features coming to this year’s jam-packed Vancouver Turkish Film Festival, starting Friday (November 15) at SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. Here are three to whet your appetite:

      Sibel  A mute young woman in a remote mountain community faces disdain and superstition from the locals. But the self-possessed young Sibel—who communicates through an ancestral (and real) whistling language—is more competent and resourceful than anyone else around her, picking crops and managing her father’s household when she isn’t doggedly hunting a wolf believed to be menacing the village. Dad is the one source of affection in Sibel’s life, at least until she stumbles across a man hiding in the woods to escape military service, throwing the community into uproar and Sibel even further into exile. The film is so successful at finding its place somewhere between neorealism and fairy tale (there’s even a mad spinster living on the edge of town), we don’t mind too much if he’s the first guy to notice that Sibel could pass for an international supermodel. Saturday, November 16 (12 p.m.) 

      Saf  With his own neighbourhood in Istanbul about to fall to rampant gentrification, unemployed Kamil reluctantly steals a construction job from an injured Syrian, taking the reduced rate paid to migrants and inflaming all sides of an argument with no winners except the wealthy. This crystal-clear depiction of moral compromise forced by a fixed class system is the stuff of Ken Loach movies, but Saf takes a surprise (and deeply sad) turn at its halfway point, focusing its attention on Kamil’s spouse, Remziye, whose more fluid ethics are put to the test for reasons best left unsaid here. After establishing its faultless politics, this lurch into melodrama could have sunk the film. Instead, thanks largely to the cast, Saf’s exploration of the messier depths of human psychology turns out to be a risk worth taking. Saturday, November 16 (4:30 p.m.) 

      Anons  A coup attempt is under way. In the dead of night, rogue military officials make their way to Istanbul’s state radio station to seize the airwaves, but find themselves perpetually undermined by the mundane inefficiencies of everyday life. Based on the real events of May 22, 1963, Anons (The Announcement) is so slow and deadpan that it makes Aki Kaurismäki look like Frank Tashlin, but how better to probe the military-fascist mindset of these clowns in their peacock uniforms, who can murder informers and innocent taxi drivers with chilling ease but can’t figure out how to operate a microphone? Underlining the film’s ruthless sense of anticomedy, the funniest scene has one of the plotters explaining a joke to his granite-faced coconspirators. As matters evolve from the tense opening to flat-out absurdism, their slow-boiling frustration becomes the entire film’s weirdly glorious payoff. Sunday, November 17 (8:35 p.m.) 

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