Asiklar: Those Who Are In Love
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by David Grabias
color, 37 min, 1996
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On a warm afternoon a man sits in a cafe, strumming an instrument and telling stories: epic tales about love and war, history and morality, god and the earth. He is not only a master musician, but an engaging singer as well, keeping his audience of villagers enraptured well into the night. Those Who Are In Love is a documentary film about these minstrels, called Ashiks, who have been part of Turkish culture for hundreds of years. Ashiks sing stories and poems, accompanying themselves on an instrument called a saz. Their music and tales are essential elements of countryside life across Turkey, with the Ashik filling a vital role in traditional Anatolian society. The stories and poems are sung completely from memory, derived from both Turkish history as well as the Ashik's own personal history. The performance lasts from a few hours to a few days. Those Who Are In Love is a film that on the one hand, examines a cultural phenomenon unique to one region of the world but on the other hand, rejoices in the power of inspiration and art. It evokes epic imagery from the well-spring of tradition, while dealing with the present realities of individual lives.
Those Who Are In Love is one of the first productions to address this topic, filling an essential need in the study of Turkish folk cultures. The film's emphasis is on conveying the poetic sensibilities of the Ashiks and their art while building a narrative out of their lives, personalities, and stories. Relevant historical and cultural information, given through minimal narration, provide the viewer with an informed perspective from which to understand the subject. Shot in a variety of locations all over Turkey, Those Who Are In Love successfully conveys the emotion and beauty of traditional Anatolian village culture as it struggles with the process of modernization and change.