2011 Angel Film Awards - Monaco International Film Festival angel awards




Nur Dolay was born in Turkey. She studied sociology and political science at Wellesley College in USA, human resources at the Sorbonne University in Paris and Communication at the French Press Institute. She worked as a journalist during 30 years in French media (Le Monde Diplomatique, Courrier International, Afrique-Asie, Radio France International, Thalassa on France 3 TV) and for the Turkish press. She has travelled all over the world and written books on Latin America and the Caucasus. She made a dozen documentary films about geopolitical issues and marine subjects, and a feature film, SMYRN-OF, released in Turkey in 2010.


In a fishing village, two young men fall in love with the same girl, one of them the son of a big fishing company and the other, a simple villager working as an underwater diver. We have a triangular love story transposed on a major environmental conflict which concerns the whole Mediterranean basin.


On a peninsula covered by olive trees and wild Mediterranean bush on the Aegean Sea, near Izmir, Turkey an isolated fishing village at the end of the peninsula, faces the Greek islands. It’s just a rough fishing settlement, far away from main roads and popular vacation resorts. The only activity here is around the fishing boats and a small fishermen’s café.

Although the story takes place mainly in this village, the film starts with the sunrise in four different countries far from each other. People who seem to have no similarity in those four different places are observed in their daily activity, during the brief laps of time before their breakfast. The tie between those different worlds will bring them together at the end of the film in this village which seems isolated, but which is in fact part of the global system.

The first scene starts on the open sea. Just before the daybreak, trawlers are positioned around a large fishing net. Divers are working in it to transfer huge tunas from the pouch into a floating cage. Then, with the sunrise, the nets are pulled up and the men have breakfast inside the boats. They eat silently, looking at a TV screen placed above their head. The second scene is in the small fishing village on the Aegean coast. Selim, a solitary writer, finishes up a long night of writing on the terrace of his house facing the sea. As the day breaks, small fishing boats are returning to the village. Selim goes to the village cafe to have breakfast with the fishermen. They complain about a big tuna company who owns trawlers and pollutes the sea with fish farms. As Selim sets off to go to Izmir, he observes those tuna cages in the sea put up by the company. The third scene takes us to the outskirts of a big African city. At daybreak, women with babies on their backs, are preparing food in front of their huts, beating grains in huge mortars. A young man swallows quickly his breakfast while waiting in front of his hut, then kisses goodbye his family and gets on a small bus. The bus stops in front of other huts to pick up some more youngsters. Finally the fourth scene is in Japan. A sushi master takes the subway very early in the morning to go to Tsukiji, the fish market, where he chooses a big tuna. Then he joins his friends who own small fish shops around the market. While they have breakfast together, he explains to them that he got an order to prepare a tuna for a big wedding ceremony (in Japan, certain couples cut slices of tuna fish instead of a cake).

Back in Izmir, during a medical check up, Selim learns that he has got a severe lung cancer that leaves him just a few months to live. Sevda, his daughter, who is a student in Istanbul, decides to spend her summer holiday in the village in order to accompany her father during his last days. However, this short period turns out to be too long for the young girl used to the frenzy of big cities. There is nothing to do and nobody to talk to in this boring village.

A young underwater diver, Levent, who works in a nearby tuna fish farm, brings them fresh fish and newspapers every morning. At first sight he falls in love with Sevda who looks like the beautiful mermaid that haunts his dreams. Sevda, however, doesn't even notice this shy and poor young man.

While Selim keeps writing more and more hurried by time, Sevda, on the other hand, thinks that time is stretching too much, and she almost starts wishing a quick ending for her father. But Selim shows no signs that the fatal day is approaching. He looks better every day, while Sevda starts losing taste for everything.

Seeing her going down each day, the young diver, Levent, tries to approach Sevda and help her. He doesn't have much to offer, but knows the hidden treasures of nature, which he wants to show her, like the stars seen from beneath the olive trees or the fish under the water, in his aquatic world where he is more at ease than on land.

The friendship which is just growing between the two of them is interrupted with the arrival of Ertan, son of the tuna company’s boss. Just like Sevda, he is a student in Istanbul, and just like her, he is more or less forced to spend his summer holiday in the village. Sevda is happy to have finally found someone who appreciates the same things as her, although their relationship is not considered well by the villagers and by Sevda's own father. Selim is supporting the local fishermen in their conflict with the big industrial tuna company working for the Japanese sushi market. They all know that the overfishing will cause the complete extinction of tuna in the Mediterranean Sea within a few years..

Completely indifferent at first by what is happening around her, Sevda slowly realizes the importance of the conflict. The tension rises with the arrival of an environmental organization and several journalists, at the same moment as the Japanese clients. The situation ends up in a clash between the big trawlers bringing in tuna, and the small coastal fishermen backed by the environmentalists.

Impressed by all the things she has seen and learned, Sevda decides to finish the unachieved job of the environmentalists after their departure. At night, she leaves with Levent to free the tuna by cutting off the nets around the cages. But they will quickly be seen by the armed guards of the company. Bullets fire in the air, projectors suddenly light up the sea ; and they all discover that they are not alone on the water. An entire human cargo of illegal immigrants is drifting in an old rotten boat just near the cages.

Some of the occupants of the boat throw themselves into the water to escape towards the shore which they believe very close, but start drowning as the water is still too deep and they don't know how to swim.

The rescue work in the sea brings Sevda and Levent closer to each other. She now sees how Ertan and his glittering world, although so familiar, are yet so far from her. She actually prefers to eat Levent’s grilled sardines on the beach rather than the sushi served on beautiful china in Ertan’s villa. Her surprise will be even greater when she discovers shelves of books in the young diver’s house, including all the works of her father. She never read any of them whereas Levent learned almost everything he knows through these books.

As for Selim’s illness, it appears to be a huge misunderstanding, and he has never been so healthy since he quit cigarettes.