Our Take – Small Axe Radical Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment
The Wheel is one of the more directly political and didactic films on our programme this year. Metîn Ewr’s film introduces us to the plight of the Kurdish people through the story of underground Kurdish newspapers. Ewr makes the story specific to the region of his homeland, Diyarbakir in Northern Kurdistan (today Southern Turkey), which, in the 1990s, was home to many underground newspapers that were oppressed by the state. The dissemination of Kurdish political thought and language thus offers the ability for self-determination amongst oppressed groups, something the Turkish state tried vehemently to deny.
The Wheel takes the form of a simple and effective drama, stripping back representational methods of symbolism for a more direct political approach. The style is that of social realism – a preferred mode of political film-making for many leftist film-makers for some time now – imbued with the necessary drama to bring about audience identification and the creation of suspense.
Ewr makes sure to imbue this film with a sense of vivacity of reality. The use of non-professional actors creates a sense of immediacy and authenticity. Arduous long takes representing the covert labour involved in underground newspapers bring home to us its laborious nature. At the same time, the ability Ewr demonstrates to switch from long takes to quicker cutting patterns attests to the precarity of their situation. Their lives are at the same time banal and on the precipice. They are forced to the margins.
The end image of the worker reading the newspaper hits a resonant point. Reading gerçekler karanlikta kalmayacak (the truth won’t stay in the dark) the efforts of the boys and men to keep this newspaper alive assumes the point of martyrdom. For our knowledge of the Kurdish resistance, and its dissemination across the globe, we may look to the sacrifice of these people.