Across the Sea
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    Across the Sea

    Directed by

    Turkey, USA


    105 min

    • Turkish


    Damla is a young Turkish woman living in New York. She's doing well. She is married and expecting her first child, but she's not happy. She feels she isn't ready for motherhood and feels very homesick. When her childhood home is put up for sale she packs her things and travels to her native parts. Once there, she will have to confront everything she fled from eight years before - starting with her first lover, Burak.


    • Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editor, Best Music, Best Actress (Damla Sönmez), Best Actor (Ahmet Rıfat Şungar) - International Golden Boll FF
    • Audience Award for Narrative Feature - Slamdance FF



    Damla Sönmez
    Jacob Fishel
    Ahmet Rıfat Şungar
    Hakan Karsak
    Nisan Dag
    Esra Saydam
    John Wakayama Carey
    Ozcan Vardar

    Director's Statement

    We are Esra and Nisan, two Turkish women living between Istanbul and New York City. Our shared past brought us together. Having made very similar life choices, we left Turkey to pursue a better living and follow our ambitions to become filmmakers. However, we soon discovered that there was a price to pay for this new life: pursuing our careers meant leaving behind relationships with our respective soulmates. Now that we have moved on, we can’t stop wondering “what if.” It’s tempting to go to that place in our minds whenever we feel lonely or desperate. And that’s why wanted to make this film: to portray the dilemma of reconciling our past with our present and making sense of living between two cultural identities. More than a love story, ACROSS THE SEA is about a woman who is stuck between her past and present and can’t let go her first love who is halfway across the world. In her journey from New York to the small coastal town in Turkey, the audience will witness different kinds of love: subtle moments that make the characters humane and memorable, silent gazes that are more powerful than any spoken words, and the hardships and rewards of living a cross-cultural life. While making this personal film, what mattered to us most was telling our story as sincerely and wholeheartedly as possible.



    A beautiful, intense and honest look at a relationship in peril.

    Slamdance FF

    An atmospheric drama that avoids cheap melodrama in its depiction of a love triangle.

    Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

    Nisan Dağ

    Nisan Dağ


    My take on filmmaking is less about self-expression and more about creating a journey where viewers cross paths with unlikely characters whom they wouldn’t get to meet in their daily lives.

    Born and raised in Turkey, Nisan Dağ is a writer/director who started her storytelling journey as a teenager with animated shorts. After graduating from Columbia University’s MFA Film Program, she co-directed her feature debut ACROSS THE SEA (2014). The film competed at Warsaw Film Festival, won several awards in festivals including Jury and Audience Award at Slamdance and Best Director at Milano. Nisan directed a documentary episode for MTV’s Rebel Music Series in 2015 with rappers from Istanbul’s slums, which led her to write and develop her second feature WHEN I’M DONE DYING (2020). It recently had its world premiere in the main competition of Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival where Nisan won the Best Director prize.

    Selected Filmography

    Esra Saydam

    Esra Saydam


    Esra graduated from Northwestern University with honours and received her MFA in Film from Columbia University. In New York, she directed two shorts, FAIR LAWN (2010) and CAREGIVER (2012), both were screened at Seattle Film Festival, !f Istanbul and Akbank Short Film Festival. She founded her production company, Karlakum Film in Istanbul, and directed her first feature, ACROSS THE SEA (2014) with Nisan Dağ. The film won six awards at the Golden Bolls alongside of other prizes at Slamdance, Milano, Skyway, and Woodshole. It was screened at Florida, Sarasota Raindance, and Warsaw film festivals. Her next project, CLOWN IS DOWN, was a semi-finalist at Bluecat Screenwriting Competiton, and attended IFP’s No Borders Section and Cine Qua Non Lab. It will also attend EAVE’s Ties That Bind Coproduction Market. Esra also offers production services to foreign projects such as THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS (HBO) and REBEL MUSIC: TURKEY (MTV). She is the co-founder of the Istanbul office of Film Fatales.