Nesrin and Hatun are two Kurdish cleaning women living in Istanbul. While Nesrin tries to survive with her little daughter, trying to understand why her husband left her, Hatun dreams of buying a house in the district where they clean.
Two cleaning ladies, their relationships with the people whose homes they clean, the conflicts in their daily lives, the hierarchies in their close friendships and family relations, their struggle to cling to life, as well as womanhood and motherhood, housecleaning and poverty…
Shuttling between the destitution and wealth of the city, Nesrin and Hatun try to understand life and find a way of their own. As Hatun tries to save up enough money to buy a home in a neighborhood where she cleans houses, Nesrin struggles with the absence of her husband and her own loneliness, while also trying to find a way through life with her five year-old daughter. The paths of these two women may be different, but their companionship is enduring as they cling to disparate dreams.
TOZ BEZI is the gripping debut feature film by director Ahu Öztürk.
The Berlinale-selected drama focusses on the challenges of two mothers – members of the Kurdish minority in Istanbul.
An intimate look at the community that’s in the epicentre of an ethnic conflict that dominates Turkish politics today.
The project has received awards at major co-production markets during its development phase – such as Sarajevo Cinelink, Holland Film Meetings and Meetings On The Bridge.
It unites some of the most notable newcomers of Turkish cinema today with well-known actors like Serra Yilmaz or Nazan Kesal in an (almost) all-female team.
It was one of the clearest memories from my childhood. We came to Istanbul to visit our relatives. First stop was my aunt, and one day, I traveled from her one-roomed flat to a three-roomed one. This was the first time that I encountered the private realm of middle class. When she was cleaning, I touched objects that I had never seen before; I was astonished. We were alone; I felt that I was so close to everything. I could even lie on bed, but there was an imaginary wall that prevented me from doing it. This represents a distance that I know intuitively from my indigent life.
Being annoyed of this distance, my mum shared a secret with me when we came back. The secret was the fact that my aunt was a cleaning woman and I should not tell this to anyone. After my college years where I met with leftist ideology, the first indication of carrying this secret was my class resentment. Afterwards, when I started working, the conversation of my colleagues about their problems with their cleaning woman reminded me of this feeling again. They hired a cleaning woman because they see this as a symbol of the class that they wish to belong, and these long conversations became the highlights of this thought.
So, where was I?
Two years ago, when a relative of mine who works as a cleaning woman came to visit us and said that she is a Circassian, I was shocked. This is the same woman that I knew her mother had died without knowing any language other than Kurdish, and she was standing in front of me like a surreal character without being defeated to any rational explanation. This helped me understand that Kurdish identity can be experienced very differently in Turkey and the point that we can touch reality is hidden in this heterogeneity.
I thought a lot about my urge to tell this story of my aunt. First, I looked for answers in the cultural, political, and ethical eras. After all these, what I reached was shame. It was not the shame that I felt about these women of my family, it was the shame of feeling this shame. So I decided to write the story, knowing that it is the only way of recovering.
When I started to work on this film, I believed that I will catch the nature and reality, as I was part of this world. However, I understood that I do not belong to this world anymore. Because belonging to that class means being speechless, silent, but I found a language to tell these stories. So even I try to catch the reality, it is a personal film.