Av: The Hunt (2020)

Av: The Hunt
Director: Emre Akay
Writer: Emre Akay, Deniz Cuylan
Cast: Billur Melis Koç, Ahmet Rifat Sungar, Emre Yetim, Adam Bay
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 21.9.2020

Content Note: sexualized violence, domestic violence, misogyny, “honor killings”/femicide

Ayse (Billur Melis Koç) has a lover, who is not only caring and in love with her, but also her safe place away from her abusive husband Sedat (Ahmet Rifat Sungar). But when her affair is discovered, Sedat as well as Ayse’s entire family band together to see justice done. And in this case, it means killing Ayse to restore the family’s honor. So Ayse runs, but that’s easier said than done.

Av: The Hunt covers an important topic and makes some excellent points about the systematic nature of those so-called “honor killings”. At the same time, it starts off stronger than it continues and the ending left me unsatisfied.

The film poster showing Ayse's (Billur Melis Koç) running silhouette against the sunset.

Av starts with Ayse’s safe place, her haven – and it shows impressively how quickly things escalate, how flimsy a safety she actually managed to get. Once she is on the run, the film shows the many ways how the men stick together which makes the situation so very inescapable for Ayse. Basically every man she meets feels entitled to control her, to question her, her motives and her presence. And of course, none of them would dream of intervening even when her family claims their (apparent) right to do whatever the hell they want with her. The few doubts about that state of affairs that are uttered are silenced quickly and violently. Patriarchy in a nutshell.

That is something I really appreciated about the film. It understand that misogyny is a systemic and systematic issue, not just a couple of out-of-control guys. Even if not everybody is on board with the killings per se, everybody is complicit in this system.

Ayse (Billur Melis Koç) in bed at her boyfriend's apartment.

Unfortunately, while the message is strong, the film itself didn’t manage to convince me as a film all that much overall. The beginning is very strong, but then the film spends a little too much time in the forest and it just loses steam there. And the ending is both unrealistic and too open, leaving me dissatisfied that the film stops at this point. Although I couldn’t say what ending I would have preferred.

Still, despite that, I’d say that Av is worth watching. And for anybody who has ever uttered the words “Why doesn’t she just leave?”, it should be absolutely mandatory.

Ayse (Billur Melis Koç) with a rifle in the woods.

Summarizing: not perfect, but good.

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