Feeling the seen and unseen, the heard and unheard...
a film by Rûken Tekeş
WORLD PREMIER at 50th Visions du Réel FF, International Feature Film Competition
56th Antalya Golden Orange FF, Golden Orange Jury Award for Best Documentary
7th Duhok International FF, Special Jury Award for Best Kurdish Feature Film
13th Inconvenient Films Human Rights FF, Jury Special Mention
21st Mediteran Film Festival, Jury Special Mention
SunnySide of the Doc, BEST OF Selection 2020
Turkish Critics' Award, Best Documentary Nominee 2020
38th Istanbul Int. Film Festival
65th Taormina International Film Festival
18th DokuFest Documentary Film Festival
19th DocPoint Helsinki Documentary Film Festival
19th DocPoint Tallinn Documentary Film Festival
35th DokFest Munchen Documentary Film Festival
12th Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam
18th Matsalu Nature Film Festival
10th Berlin Kurdish Film Festival
7th Chiayi International Art Documentary Festival
13th London Documentary Film Festival
12th DocumentarIst Istanbul Film Days
10th Which Human Rights Film Festival
7th Zeugma International Film Festival
9th Malatya International Film Festival
11th Human Rights Film Days
12th This Human World
8th Accessible Films Festival
82min, Color, DCP
*1st feature film of the Director
*Shot with 4 Cinematographers in different periods -with different elements (earth, water, air, fire).
*Total of 21 days of shooting with no plan, the film edited in line with the camera timecode.
*Separative symbols used in the film are from Sumerian & Babylonian numeric system starting from 1 till 21, representing the number of days.
*On the arrival day of the crew to the region the Government announced that the transportation of the Zeynel Bey Tomb to take place the next day. AETHER crew was the only professional fılm-crew present in the transportation, by pure serendipity.
*2 weeks after the last shooting day the archaeological area is closed.
*The construction of the hydroelectric dam is finished, flooding started in 2019.
A filmmaker’s 21-day homage to capture the ethereal essence of her unique ancient homeland soon to be submerged by a hydroelectric dam, AETHER is instinctively carried and driven by emotions, feelings and observations. It reveals the place’s truths following its own unencumbered chronology. An invitation to a free-minded voyage into nature’s cycle of birth-death-rebirth in the oldest continuously inhabited place on Earth.
Hasankeyf, a land with breathtaking nature, shapes and landscape. A cave-city of ancient Mesopotamia with at least 12,000 years of historical, cultural and ecological significance nestling in the valley of the Tigris River, in the Kurdish part of Turkey. Hasankeyf and the surrounding Tigris valley is recognized to merit as World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1970s, however till to date not registered officially.
In 2019 the area is started to be flooded by the opening of Ilısu Hydroelectric Dam. A controversial project which will provide a mere fifty years of electricity to the region and strengthen the political power of Turkey over the Middle East. Hasankeyf and surrounding Tigris valley is ranked in 2016 by Europa Nostra in the “Seven Most Endangered” sites in the world. The habitat of an endemic life including hundreds of unique species, 78.000 residents and 3000 nomadic people in and around, along with 400 excavated and unexcavated archaeological sites pertaining to the ancient cultures including Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Meds, Greeks, Romans as well as travelers on the Silk Road and nomads will be lost forever. Yet a new cement-build settlement aims accommodate one thousand people and some archeological monuments…
The filmmaker made a 21-day homage to her ancestral lands for connecting with and capturing its ethereal essence before its total destruction. With a sensorial and meditative approach, focused on the natural elements—water, earth, air and fire—in order to capture something of a primordial connection with this territory and everything that lives in it, be it a tree, a child, a sheep, an ant or a river. She does not seek to explain the stakes of this future annihilation but creates a space in which the spirit of the place can express itself. A space that transcends time and reveals the natural cycles of creation, destruction and rebirth at the heart of the film. AETHER is a free-minded voyage to a mysterious and timeless nature of a site unique in the world.
© 2019 Sarya Fılms Collective