Boston Turkish Film Festival: Religion and Gender in Guilt

The Boston Turkish Film Festival runs from Friday, 3/24 through Sunday, 3/26 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and through 4/29 virtually. Click here for the schedule and ticket info, and watch the site for Joshua Polanski’s continuing coverage!

A former journalist turned filmmaker, Ümran Safterr makes the move to feature fiction with Guilt, or Kabahat, which can also be translated as “sin.” In its US premiere through the Boston Turkish Film Festival, Safterr’s debut film doesn’t have much of the stylistic stink of a first-time director, although it does carry the heavy-handed social commentary associated with career journalists. Opening with a quote from John Berger’s Ways of SeeingGuilt could also be conceived as a persuasive documentary on gender issues, much like her previous The Sin of Being a Woman. “Women constantly meet glances which act like mirrors reminding them of how they look or how they should look. Behind every glance there is judgment. Sometimes the glance they meet is their own, reflected back from a real mirror,” the quote reads. Subtle, this film is not. 

The pubescent Reyhan (Mina Demirtaş) has her first period while spending the summer at her grandmother’s house in a conservative central Anatolian village. The water goes out on the first day, preventing Reyhan from being able to perform ghusl (full ablution). It doesn’t help that she hides her puberty concerns from the older women in her life, but she doesn’t feel safe talking about her body in that way with them. Together with her friend Shukran (Ece Demirturk), she roams the village and nearby town looking for access to a public bath, as well as a pregnancy test for her more spunky friend. All of the women in town seem incapable of anything but gossiping—pushing the plot forward through the power of their sharp and biting tongues.

Continue reading on the Boston Hassle.

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