An extraordinary performance by a 10-year-old girl anchors “The Children of Diyarbakir,” the debut feature of Miraz Bezar. Set in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, the pic takes a straightforward, non-sensationalized approach to the tragic story of a brother and sister orphaned when their parents are assassinated by a secret-services paramilitary officer. Though it shows its first-feature origins, the film has moments, especially toward the end, that so transcend the material as to make the journey doubly worthwhile. A healthy fest life is assured, while Euro arthouse play isn’t out of the question.
Though less inspired, the early scenes do the necessary work of introducing characters and establishing a mood: Gulistan (Senay Orak) and her younger brother, Firat (Muhammed Al), have a normal childhood with their mom (Fahriye Celik) and dad (Alisan Onlu) and new baby brother. Dad is a Kurdish journalist; on their way back from a wedding, the family is stopped by three gunmen, who shoot the parents dead in front of the kids. The brief scene is all the more powerful because Bezar downplays any excess in either the lensing or editing. Continue reading