Berlinale Competition: “A Tale of Three Sisters” shows social structures of Anatolia

Berlinale Competition
:“A Tale of Three Sisters” shows social structures of Anatolia

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  • Alexandra Seitz

"A Tale of Three Sisters": Reyhan (Helin Kandemir) is the eldest of the three sisters.

“A Tale of Three Sisters”: Reyhan (Helin Kandemir) is the eldest of the three sisters.


Liman movie, accomplices movie, circ

The film “A Tale of Three Sisters” receives four out of five stars from our film critic. ★★★★

★ Total flop

★★ failures

★★★ Worth seeing

★★★★ bear candidate

★★★★★ masterpiece


The Turkish filmmaker Emin Alper does not think much of taking his audience by the hand. No, he whistles rather on exposure and throws it right in the middle of the story: in a problematic situation that has obviously been going on for quite some time and is now coming to a head.

Emin Alper portrays three young girls

“A Tale of Three Sisters” (Kiz Kardesler) begins with a ride through the mountains; Immediately in one of the first shots, the car seems to be steering against a cliff, but then the horizon opens and over the pass, the ride goes down into a valley where some homesteads lie and not many people live. The autumn sun makes the landscape golden, the panorama in front of it is of tremendous beauty, but the girl in the car has tears in her eyes.

That a beautiful landscape has nothing to do with a beautiful life is one of the casual insights that Alper’s story of the three sisters, Reyhan, Nurhan, and Havva, conveys. The apparently widowed father had sent the three as a maid to the city to improve their chances and at least learn to read and write.

But 20-year-old Reyhan soon returned pregnant and was hurriedly married to village shepherd Veysel. Now, for various reasons, the 16-year-old Nurhan and the 13-year-old Havva return to the village and to the father, who is quarreling and complaining about this misfortune. What should become of the girls? What to do?

Alper shows social structures based on a family

During the afternoon, night and morning of the following day, a series of conversations, arguments, rakibefeuert disputes and the resulting tragic events, a complex image of the social structures in this remote region in Anatolia. Not only the family relationships, but also the social conditions are fanned out – and on closer inspection shows that the power and guilt are not distributed as evenly as initially assumed.

The second part of the film is, in turn, condensed in winter. The village is snowed in, the pass is impassable, the clouds are low – just as the contours dissolve into shadows, so do the developed conflicts, but not in good spirits. For as in the beginning Alper trusts in the willingness of the public to follow his open staging; the father starts telling a story to his three girls.

After “Tepenin Ardi”, winner of the 2012 Forum and “Abluka”, winner of the Jury’s Special Prize in Venice, “A Tale of Three Sisters” is the third film of Alper, born in 1974 in Ermenek, Central Anatolia. And another proof of the masterly ability of this filmmaker to compaction, sharpening and powerful image design.