Establishing a bleak village in Eastern Turkey as its setting, SIVAS features the story of Aslan, an eleven-year-old boy, and Sivas, a weathered fighting dog who develop a strong relationship after Aslan finds Sivas wounded in a ditch, left to die. Meanwhile, a school play dominates the background as Aslan is disappointed in losing the role of the prince to Osman, his rival-in-love and son of the village head. While Osman gets ahead in the two boys’ race to win the hand of Ayse, the “princess” of the village, Aslan tries to impress her with his newfound friend. And Sivas, having found a new lease on life, wins one fight after another, strengthening Aslan’s hand. However, as Sivas’s success attracts more attention by the village head, the roles change and Aslan finds himself in an unexpected crashcourse into adulthood, leaving the princess behind.
- Best Youth Award - Brisbane BAFF Asia Pacific Screen
- Best Actor (Doğan Ïzci) - Angers FF
- Best Actor (Doğan Ïzci), Child Protection Award for Best Script - Abu Dhabi FF
- Special Jury Prize, Premio Bastio D'Oro for the Best Actor (Doğan İzci) - Venice FF
- Golden Manaki Award - Manaki Brothers IFF
- Best Film, Youth Jury Award - Cinémamed
- Gold FIFOG (Official Features Competition) - FIFOG
- FIPRESCI Award - Dhaka IFF
- Dogan Izci
- Ozan Celik
- Hasan Ozdemir
- Ezgi Ergin
- Furkan Uyar
- Muttalip Mujdeci
- Banu Fotocan
- Hasan Yazilitilas
- Okan Avci
- Kaan Müjdeci
- Armin Dierolf
- Martin Hogsnes Svang
- Yorgos Mavropsaridis
- Cevdet Erek
SIVAS is its own child – not an immaculate conception but a film that gives birth to itself slowly, along the ride. In this sense, it could be defined as a movie with a somehow experimental film grammar. However, my aim here does not attempt to be experimental for the sake of it, but rather that tries to reflect in truth the mercurial life of rural Anatolia. It might be that the stereotypical image of the countryside in Turkey – or anywhere in the world – is that it’s static, unchanging – unlike, for instance, to that of the city. The “processed” images of films that depict the village life shows a settlement supposed to be “sleepy”, with a character that longs to escape it. What I had in mind while directing SIVAS, especially after the experience of shooting the documentary FATHERS AND SONS, was to avoid this well-trodden path and go for something (and somewhere) else. The generally expected word here would be “capture”; however, I find something unnecessarily imposing and patronizing in the word and the act it implies. It is also limiting in a way, bringing along the connotations of captured moments, rather than an ongoing process. While directing Sivas, I tried to concern myself about this unkempt, ongoing process that is not usually attributed to the country life; it is about the continuously evolving life and character of a small boy and a small village. I purposefully kept the stakes low: there is no epic love, or an epic struggle, or the usual concerns we see in films that concerns the Anatolian rural life. But it is definitely one hell of a ride rather than an act of capturing. Sivas itself does not capture, but willingly lets go: of its main characters played by amateur actors, its unprocessed setting, meanwhile firmly holding onto its plot.
- COLOURED GIRAFFES
This sparse story... is distinguished by its muscular technical brio and rich, integral sense of place.
This looks great even if the story and pint-sized protagonist don't really know what they want.
Despite the ferocious violence of the dogfighting and the stark poverty, a surprising humanity underpins Sivas.
Doğan Izci dominates proceedings with a powerful performance far beyond his years.
Sivas recounts the relationship between dog and boy as a rite of passage in a male-dominated social structure, tearing to shreds adorable "pet movies".
Kaan Müjdeci was born in Ankara, Turkey. He moved to Berlin in 2003 in order to study film directing. Instead, he first opened an illegal open-air cinema, then a bar, and finally, a fashion store. In parallel to all these ventures, Müjdeci has continued filmmaking. Among his short films, DAY OF GERMAN UNITY (2010) was bought by several TV channels; and JERRY, his thesis film at the New York Film Academy, was screened within the scope of Berlinale’s Talent Campus, which he attended in 2011. Müjdeci’s documentary FATHERS AND SONS (2012) about dog fights in central Anatolia, served as a platform to write and direct his first feature film entitled SIVAS. Having its world premiere in 71st Venice Film Festival in the main competition section, the the film was awarded with the Grand Jury Prize. His project IGUANA TOKYO was selected for the Venice Gap-financing Market 2019.