Colors of Turkey

Festival Program

Contemporary Turkish Documentaries

Sirtlarindaki Hayat
Directed and written by Yesim Ustaoglu
2004, 38 minutes
In Turkish with English subtitles
Co-presented with the Harvard Film Archive
Friday, November 25, 2005 at 7:00pm
Harvard Film Archive
Main Auditorium
Carpenter Center for the Arts 
(Screened with Legendary Girl of the Skies: Sabiha Gokcen) 



With summer on its way, the mountain people leave their village with their herds. They pass through winding paths and valleys, and cross deep ravines, on their way to their summer quarters. Komati, situated at 2000 meters in altitude, is the first stop on this perilous journey, where the villagers set up camp. From there, they climb to 3500 meters to reach a second camp called Grand Kachar, at the peak of the majestic chain of mountains, where their herds are let to graze; covered in fog, these mountains rise above the Black Sea, separating it from the Anatolian plateau, as an insurmountable wall. Under the autumn rains, the mountain people then start their way back down, all in reverse...
This film tells the story of women who carry on their shoulders the weight of a life of seasonal migration, in constant battle against a hostile natural environment.
Festivals and Awards
Fajr International Film Festival, Iran (2005)
Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Greece (2005)
Seoul Women's Film Festival, Korea (2005)



After making several award-winning shorts, Yesim Ustaoglu made her feature film debut with 1994's "Iz" (The Trace). The film was presented at numerous international venues, including Moscow and Gotenburg. Ustaoglu received international recognition for her 1999 film, "GŁnese Yolculuk" (Journey to the Sun). In competition at the Berlin Film Festival, "Journey to the Sun" received the Blue Angel Award (Best European Film) and the Peace Prize, as well as Best Film, Best Director, the FIPRESCI Prize, and the Audience Award at the Istanbul Film Festival. 

Selected Filmography:
Sirtlarindaki Hayat (Life on Their Shoulders, 2004)
Bulutlari Beklerken (Waiting for the Clouds, 2004)
GŁnese Yolculuk (Journey to the Sun, 1999)
Iz (The Trace, 1994)