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
Few Facts
*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 located in Kurdish region of Turkey beside the river Tigris. Hasankeyf and the surrounding Tigris valley is recognized to merit as World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1970s, however till to date not registered by the Turkish State. 


In 2019 the area is planned 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 hundreds of 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 will accommodate few thousand people and few archeological monuments only… 


The filmmaker made a 21-day homage to her ancestral lands for connecting with and capturing its ethereal essence (Aether/5th element) before its total destruction. Drifting through the land with no plan or direction in focusing four main elements (water, fire, air, earth), she driven by her instinctive emotions, feelings and observations. She captured the moments as the way she came across with them, with no interference or rendition. The film edited in line with its own unencumbered chronology. 

Her meditative reflections infused with nature’s cycle of birth-death-rebirth is an invitation to a free-minded voyage for the audience. AETHER is about being in the present and experiencing a raw self-expression of nature and its beings which cannot defend themselves against an impending annihilation.

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© 2019  Sarya Fılms Collective