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Timely about arranged marriages in Europe

Red Moon
Regissør: Tülin Özdemir

ARRANGED MARRIAGE / Red Moon is as much family therapy as a heartbreaking road movie.

This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian

Tülin Özdemir's touching story of one
Turkish woman who is sent to Europe as a nine-year-old and at the age of thirteen
marrying off to a stranger man who is five years older than her is a timely
account of the ancient practice of arranged marriages in certain cultures.

Red Moon is tightly focused around the close relationship between the village girl
Hafize and her niece. The two women – with one
age difference of a little more than ten years – collaborating on a joint attempt to
do something about the damage generational poverty, paternalism and arranged
marriage has inflicted on them and the other women in their clan.

Hafize's journey is an examination of her identity as a children's wife, mother and caregiver, seeking freedom from a past that still rests heavily on her heart and soul. Red Moon is therapeutic enough to give hope and has sufficient momentum to hold the audience in a heartfelt and touching story.

Switching identities

The film begins and ends on grassy limestone cliffs high above the sea, while Hafize tells her niece about a bureaucratic mistake, which meant that as a six-year-old, she was identified as a boy and given a blue Turkish identity card instead of a pink one. The situation was later rectified, and she instead took the name and identity of an older sister.

It may seem like a rather bleak starting point for the story of a woman whom the film's teaser refers to as forcibly aired as a child to Europe, but for the heroine of Red Moon this is almost like an inheritance sin, an identity robbery that has plagued her for the rest of her life.

"I'd love to forgive you, but I can't."

When aunt and niece wander through they saw to
say empty, overgrown streets in Hafize's village on a dusty Turkish plain -
seen through a narrow window in the old, now abandoned, her school, or
along the road she went with her father the morning she was sent to Europe -
a story emerges of poverty, hopelessness and old, obsolete


Red Moon
Director Tülin Özdemir

Conversations between Hafize and her aging mother – who was even married to a young soldier she met for the first time on their wedding day – provide the framework for one of several "revelations" that are spread throughout the film: that it was her own older sister who prayed that she had to be sent to be with her in Brussels, where she too was already a young bride in an arranged marriage.

The nine-year-old Hafize was upbeat and curious: "I thought I was only going to be gone for a few days or weeks," she says, adding that Belgium (which she didn't know anything about) in her little girl shows was somewhere "just beyond" the nearest hills.

Delivered by his father. After a long march in the gray light, Hafize was handed over by his father, almost without a word. Hafize neither saw nor spoke to his father again. It's only at the very end of the movie that she takes up this betrayal – the only one of many she can't forgive. In a painful scene, she confronts a lifelong affliction in a conversation with her late father at his grave. It is an open wound on a journey where few other conversations are made with the men in her life (we see no more than two uncles, and hear, briefly and indirectly, only one).

Tülin Özdemir

“No one has hurt me so much in my life
like you", says Hafize addressing his father's silent grave. "Why?"

“I would like to forgive you, but I can
no," she says before turning and walking away without looking back.

The film has constant touches from a current Turkish wedding, and Red Moon rounds off with a final act that focuses on the beginning of a reconciliation between Hafize and the older sister who was responsible for bringing her to Belgium.

Translated by Sigrid

avatar photos
Nick Holdsworth
Holdsworth is a writer, journalist and filmmaker.

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