Pelin Esmer’s Oyun (The Play) in International Media



You can watch Oyun (The Play) on iTunes with English subtitles in USA, UK, Canada and Ireland in addition to Turkey.

New York Magazine: “Boisterously insightful, hilarious and socially relevant in equal measure, and the perfect antidote to today’s crop of dryly crusading, good-for-you documentaries. Not to be missed.” “Enlightening, touching and inspiring.”


Ioncinema: “Very entertaining and helps us understand the issues at ‘play’.”


Le Monde: “A Turkish revelation in San Sebastián: Oyun, by Pelin Esmer, is distinguished by the vigor of the subject and the genius of the personalities. This documentary follows, with much sobriety, the preparation of a theatrical play by a group of Turkish peasant women. They had no right to study, almost all were married by force and suffer the abuse of their spouse, the bullying of their in-laws. The director captures an extraordinary process, which begins with the tales of individual tragedies of each, and ends by the presentation of farce which they finally create. In the course of rehearsals, these timid peasant women become fabulous actresses and develop spontaneously an uncompromising and constructed feminist speech. At first experienced as a hobby, the theatre becomes a question of life or death, which brings them self-respect, respect on behalf of their husband, and an enormous hope for generations to come. In front of the camera, it is a true revolution which took place, peaceful, emotional and dreadfully cheerful.”


Variety: “Nine peasant women in the village of Arslankoy, southern central Turkey, achieve varying amounts of personal liberation in ‘The Play,’ a bracing, good-natured portrait of rural community via a theatrical performance based on their own lives. Standout docu in the recent Istanbul festival is perfect fare for cultural TV slots… DV credits are fine, and sense of place is acute.”


Senses of Cinema: “Despite a strong showing by some veterans, however, probably the best film among the Turkish works at this year’s festival – and, arguably, the best film at the entire [Istanbul] fest – was Pelin Esmer’s The Play (Oyun)… The most striking thing about the film is how much fun these women seem to be having – their play is mostly a comedy, even though many of the objects of their scorn are in their only audience.”

Esmer’s film had only one screening at the festival, and it screened outside of competition, so it won no awards. And yet the film’s electrifying, filled-to-the-rafters screening may have been reward enough; Esmer had the foresight to bring her amazing subjects with her, and their post-screening Q&A eventually devolved into relentless applause and exclamatory praise yelled out from the audience. If it had been Sundance, the director would probably have been canonised by now. Still, she may yet make it onto the international circuit: The Play’s energetic combination of crowd-pleasing humour and sophisticated social critique should carry well across borders.”


cinema scope: “Istanbul’s most electrifying film was Pelin Esmer’s The Play (Oyun), a riveting documentary. Esmer’s film avoids the obvious exploitative pitfalls of her subject matter and instead allows these audacious, charming women to speak for themselves; it’s a credit to her remarkable balancing act that The Play works both as biting, hilarious social criticism and as a tender tale of village life. The makeshift village stage provides Esmer’s heroines with an outlet for their suppressed rage that allows them direct expression. For all its humour, The Play has the energy of a long-gestating scream. It’s also a bracing corrective to the aestheticized melancholia on display in much of the rest of today’s Turkish cinema.”


Gara: “an exciting Turkish documentary by Pelin Esmer.. Pinched in creating a work of theater, without resources but with passion and illusions, [the actresses] see to it that the audiance is involved in the history and laughs with them. Everything is relative, yes, except the good histories, those are universal. ”


Euskanews & Media: “Wonderful Turkish documentary… An ingenious, entertaining adventure, with a load of social important claim. A delight of documentary that manages to capture the sparkle of some real people. Unforgettable faces that will remain long time in my memory.”


Le Journal du Pays Basque: “One of the nice surprises of the 53rd Donostia [San Sebastián] International Film Festival.. universal.. with a cinematographic maturity. This magnificient little film put a smile on the face of everyone watching it. “

You can watch Oyun (The Play) on iTunes with English subtitles in USAUKCanada and Ireland in addition to Turkey.

Pelin Esmer’s Oyun (The Play) in International Media
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