august 2022
Festivalul de Film Anonimul 2022
Anonimul 2022 hosts three competitions: two dedicated to short films (one national, including 12 titles, another international, including 10 films), handpicked by Romanian film critic Ionuț Mareș, and one for feature film (5 titles) curated by Slovak critic Ludmila Cvikova. The latter competition brings together both fiction and documentary films.

Wednesday evening (10 August 2022) began, in the campsite guarded by an almost full moon and troubled by cold and unfriendly gusts of wind, with the screening of Zuhal, the feature film debut of the young Turkish filmmaker Nazli Elif Durlu (present at the festival). Few hundred people thoroughly enjoyed the humour of this domestic comedy, which takes place in a rather exclusive block of flats placed in an unnamed city in contemporary Turkey and which has as major theme the relationship between an attractive young lawyer, Zuhal (Nihal Yalcin), and a mysterious meowing cat that prevents her from sleeping.

Zuhal has just moved into the block and is currently living alone (her boyfriend is away on a long business trip to Dubai). The process of adapting to the new and elegant apartment is disrupted by a series of small, unexpected events. A piece of massive furniture proves to be difficult to fit into a particular room, so it is abandoned in the hallway by tradesmen who initially come without a toolbox and then forget to return. A lady living in the neighbourhood makes short and quick forays onto the sidewalk in front of the block, setting off the alarms of the illegally parked cars. A cat's meow starts every now and then, either during day or night, but it's only heard by her, by Zuhal, and unconfirmed by any of the other tenants.

Set out on the path to solving the mystery of the meow-meow, Zuhal causes a series of hilarious incidents, through which she both gets to know her neighbours, but also puts her physical integrity at risk. With gentleness, delicacy and a lot of humour, Zuhal outlines a portrait of a certain social class (let's call it, the middle class with a soothing income and various expectations, some reasonable, other rather bizarre) with which a large part of the Anonimul audience (and, in general, the audience of this kind of cinema) resonates. We see ourselves in the story, on the screen, we recognize ourselves starting / getting involved in small battles carried for nothing, uncapable of adapting our comfort according to assumptions which are not fully included in our life plan.

At the same time, the script, written by Nazli Elif Durlu alongside Ziya Demirel, allows itself the freedom not to follow the predictable route of putting its main character in embarrassing / more-and-more-ridiculous situations, coming with an end that balances of forces (of imagination of a person in a sort-of-state-of-war with the neighbours, the real estate agents and the rest of the world). Zuhal has a certain of fears and anxieties, due to more or less real causes, the film carrying out her name puts them on the screen, makes fun of them in a friendly way, without thickening / darkening them excessively.

We're far from being perfect human beings, we should indeed learn about our weaknesses, but there is no need for this process to be a tough, dark one, leading to long-term psychotherapy sessions. Sometimes, all we need is a mother, some cookies for the neighbours, painting the wall of a flat, using a hammer for breaking windows and, voila, the fear is gone!

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