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My Only Sunshine

My Only Sunshine

Hayat Var

Reha Erdem

  • Country: Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria
  • Year: 2008
  • Language: Turkish
  • Producer: Ömer Atay
  • Executive Producer: Ömer Atay
  • Screenplay: Reha Erdem
  • Runtime: 122
  • Programmes:

A potent, widescreen portrait of an Istanbul wild child. Hayat lives in a shack beside the Bosphorus sea with her criminal father and wheezing grandfather. Life is harsh, but Hayat watches and learns.

DramaFamily RelationsIdentityComing of Age & YouthExperimental & Avant-Garde

screening times

    • Sunday September 12
    • 6:15:00 PM
    • AMC 3
    • Friday September 17
    • 5:15:00 PM
    • AMC 5
    • Sunday September 19
    • 4:00:00 PM
    • Tiff Bell LightBox 3

Note: indicates Premium Screening.

official description

Ask Istanbul cinephiles which director best represents their city and Reha Erdem’s name is always near the top of the list. As engaging in person as his narrative worlds are onscreen, Erdem knows how to begin a tale quietly and cast a spell over his viewers. His most recent film, the stylized dark fable Kosmos, caused a stir at this year’s Berlinale. But it is his previous film, My Only Sunshine, which perhaps best expresses the filmmaker’s vision of Istanbul: a mix of hard truths and stark poetry.

Fourteen-year-old Hayat (Elit Iscan) lives with her father and bedridden grandfather in a shack next to the dark, beautiful waters of the Bosphorus Strait. Her matted hair and closed face mark her as a wild child, but secretly she longs for stability. Her father, a small-time smuggler, ferries Hayat to school in the same boat he uses to deliver prostitutes and contraband to huge tanker ships anchored offshore. Neglected by her father, Hayat does no better with her mother, who has remarried and now treats her daughter with rough resentment.

Erdem builds the details of Hayat’s world with a keen eye, contrasting the pastoral quality of her ramshackle home on the water with the brutality of the big city. Her father buys her a stuffed animal that plays “My Only Sunshine” and says “I love you,” but it’s a poor substitute for real love. As Hayat crosses the threshold into puberty, that drought of real love and the brutality of her life on the margins begin to take on harsher tones.

But all is not bleak in Erdem’s film. Somehow, Hayet begins to fumble for a way out. She finds her own bargain with the mercenary world around her. And as the story pushes to a glorious finish, she also finds transcendence. Having built his film around the timeless dramatic and lyrical force of the Bosphorus, Erdem offers it up to his beautiful, troubled, too-wise young heroine, who makes those waters her own.

Cameron Bailey

director bio

Reha Erdem studied history at Istanbul’s Bogaziçi University before moving to France, where he studied cinema at the Université de Vincennes à Saint-Denis. He is the founder of Atlantik Films, which has produced hundreds of highly regarded television commercials, as well as his recent films. His feature films are Oh Moon (89), Run for Money (99), Mommy, I’m Scared (04), Times and Winds (06), My Only Sunshine (08) and Kosmos (10).

full credits

Principal Cast: Elit Iscan, Levend Yilmaz, Erdal Besikçioglu
Ömer Atay
Executive Producer:
Ömer Atay
Florent Herry
Reha Erdem
Herve Guyader
Orhan Gencebay
Production Designer:
Ömer Atay
Production Company:
Atlantik Film/Kaboal Pictures/Cinegram
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