Winter Sleep is called Kiş Uykusu in Turkish which means something like hibernation. It is set in Kappadokya in the winter time. The landscape looked very familiar. We were there last year in the summer and stayed at a hotel built into the hillside with a similar feel to the one in the film (*). It is based on a couple of stories by Anton Chekov.

The protagonist is a former actor who has now retired to live in the centre of Anatolia. He has inherited the hotel from his father along with several properties in the village. He writes columns for the local paper which it is likely few read and plans to write a book about the history of theatre in Turkey. His name is Aydın, which means intellectual or enlightened person. He lives with his sister Necla, who has recently parted from her husband, and his much younger wife Nihal.

There are only a few guests remaining at the hotel this late in the season. When one guest notes that there are no horses at the hotel, although horses are featured on the website, Aydın is prompted to go to the horse catcher. A wild horse is lassoed by a stream, subdued and pulled from the water exhausted. Soon afterward the guest, who is travelling without a fixed itinerary by cross-country motorbike, departs unexpectedly and Aydın, perhaps in a moment of clarity, sets the horse free. It gallops away through the valley in the moonlight.


We have seen a number of interesting films at International Film Night this year. Atanarjuat is a Canadian film. It is filmed entirely in Inuktitat, the language of the Eastern Canadian Inuit, was made in 2001, and is directed by Zacharias Kunuk. It was the first indigenous Inuit film to be produced.

It retells an Inuit legend about two brothers, Amaqjuaq, the strong one, and Atanarjuat, the fast one. At the beginning of the film they are infants. In the opening scenes, at a gathering of the clan, in the presence of a baleful shaman, Kumaglak the clan leader dies and Sauri his son is appointed the new leader. The clear implication is that Sauri has plotted his father’s murder and Tulimaq, the infant’s father, is now under threat, as is Qulitalik, the brother of Kumaglik’s wife Panikpak, who flees the clan

The film then picks them up as young men. Atarnajuat is now a rival of Oki, the son of Sauri, in a duel for Atuat, who was betrothed to Oki as a child. Atarnajuat wins the fight, a formalised contest where they alternately punch each other on the head. Though now married to Atuat, on a hunting trip Atarnajuat stops by Sauri’s camp, where he is persuaded to allow Puja, Oki’s sister, to join him on the trip. Atarnajuat is seduced by Puja thereby acquiring a second wife.