Switzerland | 2015 | 98 mins | Turkish | Indian Premiere
Köpek portrays the lives of three lonely characters fighting to find love, or even a glimmer of humanity, in a city that rejects them—the Turkish capital, Istanbul. Ten-year-old Cemo sells paper tissues on the street to support his family, Hayat has an overly possessive husband for whom she feels no passion, and transsexual prostitute Ebru is abandoned by the only man she cares for. As they roam the hostile urban landscape, the protagonists seem unable to fight their cruel destinies until, one day, they each rebel against the limitations placed on them by society. Distinguished by an attentive eye for the poetry of the everyday, Esen Isik’s debut feature is a sensitive tale of love and violence in contemporary Turkey— a country portrayed as aspiring to modernity but being choked by archaic values.
Esen Isik was born in 1969 in Istanbul. After 1984’s military coup, whilst still at high school, she took part in demonstrations for women’s and gay rights. In 1990, she moved to Switzerland to be with her fiancé, having spent six months in prison for distributing flyers. Her marriage ended after two years but, with a place on a film course at Zürich University of the Arts, she remained in Switzerland as an illegal immigrant. Esen drew on these experiences in her graduation film, Lie Down to Die (1997), which was screened in the Swiss parliament and contributed to an amendment in the law to protect migrant women. Esen’s other directorial credits include the shorts Ölmeye Yatmak—Und sie legte sich zum Sterben nieder (1997), The Stolen Father (2000) and Du und Ich (2012). She now holds joint Swiss and Turkish citizenship.