24/10/2019.- On Thursday, film producer Claus Reichel presented Oray, the Turkish-born German filmmaker Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay’s graduation film. The film depicts the everyday life of a young Muslim man who runs away from his past looking for a better future.
Oray is a second-generation Muslim who leans on his religious community in order to overcome his past as a thief. The problem comes when, during an argument with his wife, Burcu, he says the word “talaq” three times, which, according to Islamic law, means immediate divorce. From this moment on, the film reflects on what qualities make a good Muslim and raises a dilemma for its protagonist, who struggles between faith and love.
Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay began writing this feature film in 2013. Despite the similarity between Oray’s and the filmmaker’s origins, it is not an autobiographical film — instead, it is inspired by the story of a friend from his youth. In the post-screening discussion, Claus Reichel explained that “the film shows the tension experienced by Mehmet between those two worlds he is familiar with — community and individualism” and said that “the film doesn’t expect to represent the four million Muslims who live in Germany.”
Regarding the female role in the film, Reichel said that they decided to focus more on Oray’s character because they wanted to depict a vulnerable masculinity. “His wife’s absence was very natural because of how the character was written and because of her psychology. In my opinion, she is the strong character in this film,” said Claus Reichel on this subject.
The film won the award for Best First Feature Award in the last Berlinale. Since then, the film has already taken part in more than 30 festivals in many countries, such as the United States, Turkey, or Bolivia. Leading actor Zejhun Demirov also won the German Cinema Young Talent Award with this character.