Somewhere in Turkey near the border of Azerbaijan in the mid 1990s. An Oriental
storyteller introduces our main character, MIHRAM. Her song tells of a traveller and
a trader in exotic and precious goods, a "merchant of four seasons"... a song about
Cut to MIHRAM, a poor, low-level trader who makes small profits with a few slightly
dodgy deals. MIHRAM is also a half-hearted Muslim. He goes to the mosque, he
prays and he asks God for a streak of good luck, and, after prayers, makes a few
sales to locals on the steps outside and gets a drink at the bar. MIHRAM is also
sharp. He sees that his region is on the brink of a new era. Engineers are moving in,
putting up antennae to allow the mobile phone network to extend to this remote-ish
area. MIHRAM wants to tap into this “growth sector”: he has found an empty shop
on the market place, but needs capital for the "start-up package" to become an
official mobile phone trader - money he simply doesn't have. Local Mafia operator
MUSTAFA is aggressive in his offers of ‘help’. But MIHRAM resists - he wants to
remain an independent trader, "an island".
One day the local DOCTOR asks MIHRAM for help: the hospital supply truck has
been robbed. She will give MIHRAM money to buy the children’s medication that
they desperately need on the black market. MIHRAM senses that this is his chance
to turn his luck around. He will invest the DOCTOR's cash in some chemicals which
he can buy "under-the-counter" from a contact at the Canadian mine; chemicals
which he can sell at a good profit over the border [in Azerbaijan] and where he can
purchase the medicine for the DOCTOR. In other words, he will gamble with the
hospital's money to make enough to procure the medicine and pocket the difference
to rent the shop and a mobile phone retail licence. And all without having to borrow
money from MUSTAFA…
MIHRAM sets off to the other side of the border together with his uncle FAZIL who is
a nervy, moany old man; a comic character who is depressed about everything. The
plan gets off to a good start and the dynamic duo make a substantial profit.
The next day, when he arrives at the pharmacy from whom he'd arranged to buy the
medicine, MIHRAM is horrified to discover that there's been a rush on it, and that it’s
sold out. The shortage in MIHRAM's home country has increased demand this side
of the border. The only place left to buy the medicine is the hospital in Ezren.
MIHRAM approaches the hospital dispenser BARAN, expecting a straightforward
negotiation. But it seems BARAN is as much an "operator" as MIHRAM. He
assesses well how much MIHRAM is desperate for the sale. MIHRAM barters wildly
with the man but BARAN is torn between the money and his conscience. Finally,
BARAN is spared the decision when he is called away to an emergency. Left alone
in the dispensary, MIHRAM has a moment of madness and steals the medicine.
Whilst making his escape, MIHRAM walks into a children’s ward and is riddled with
guilt, but he’s gone beyond the point of return.
Back at home, MIHRAM drowns his self-loathing in drink but an unpleasant
encounter with MUSTAFA soon sobers him up. MUSTAFA reveals that it was he
who bought up all the medicine over the border. He tells MIHRAM that he knows he
stole the drugs and makes him a proposition. Either he offers MUSTAFA a 50%
share in his phone business or MUSTAFA will share his information with the police.
MIHRAM staggers off into the empty market place and falls asleep. Here, over his
unconscious body, the storyteller sings a final song; "Where does the moon get its
In the morning MIHRAM wakes to the activity of the market, the shouting, bartering,
haggling, the ceaseless activity; people who win, people who lose, the activity he
used to love so much, but which now seems to him a battle. He sees his wife,
daughter and UNCLE FAZIL starting work on the shop and goes to join them.
Tayanc Ayaydin got the "Leopard" at Internationalen Filmfestival Locarno 2008 for "best actor".
Key Cast: Mihram Tayanç - Ayaydın | Fazil Genco - Erkal | Elif enay - Aydın | Mustafa Hakan - ahin | Singer Rojin
Written and Directed by Ben Hopkins | Producer Roshanak Behesht Nedjad | Co-Producers Gulnara Sarsenova,
Hans W. Geißendörfer, Nikki Parrott, Ceyda Tufan | Director of Photography Konstantin Kröning | Editor Alan Levy
| Sound Recordist Jacob Ilgner | Sound Design Lars Ginzel | Composer Cihan Sezer | Production Designer Atilla Yılmaz | Costume Designer Zeynep Sırlıkaya | Running time: 93 minutes | Colour | 35mm | Shooting format: Classic Cinema (film 16 & 35mm) | 24fps | 6 reels