First Films First




Production Company: Istos film (Turkey)
Producer: Anna Maria Aslanoğlu
Co-Producers: Jamila Wenske (Actung Panda!, GERMANY), Tanay Abbasoğlu (TN Yapim,TURKEY), Tolga Karaçelik (Karaçelik Film TURKEY), Öykü Canli (Yumurta Yapim Sanat, TURKEY)
Screenplay: Nazlı Elif Durlu, Ziya Demirel
Director of photography: Sebastian Weber
Editing: Buğra Dedeoğlu, Selda Taşkın
Art Director: Osman Özcan
Music: Alexander Lawrence, Yusuf Tan Demirel
Cast: Nihal Yalçın, Sadi Celil Cengiz, Nur Sürer, Serpil Gül, Aycan Sümercan, Gizem Taştan, Sencar Sağdıç, Ilgaz Kocatürk
Funding: Turkish-German Co-Production Development Fund, Film Independent (Fiscal Sponsor)
Training and co-production markets: Meetings on the Bridge, First Films First, Mediterranean Film Institute, Global Media Makers of Film Independent, Los Angeles Greek FF’s International Project Development Forum, When East Meets West


Zuhal is an upper middle class woman with a nice job and a nice house in Istanbul, and a long-term relationship. Her ordinary life, spent with daily troubles, business rushes and phone calls with her boy friend on a trip, changes when she hears a cat meowing one night. Because of this meow, which she believes is coming from a flat, she is forced to communicate with her neighbours, whom she deliberately avoids. However, she cannot convince anyone of the existence of this voice. In her debut, after three awardwinning short films, Nazlı Elif Durlu tells the story of a strong female protagonist, with dark humour and lively characters.


Once at a friends’ gathering I met a woman who told me of a constant meowing she kept hearing in her flat. While searching for the cat she discovered that no one else hears it. Moreover, people started doubting her mental health. Later she found a cat stuck in one of the plumbing pipes. I was also intrigued: Would I keep searching or would I just ignore the meow in fear of being labeled as mad?

Mostly people answer Zuhal by saying ‘it’s forbidden having a pet in this building’. This rational reasoning relieves them of the responsibility of further thought. As Zuhal insists, people feel more comfortable with the idea of her mental illness than to do something about the cat; Zuhal’s solitary life gives people an excuse to marginalize her. Zuhal’s pursuit combines moments of urban madness characterized by ruthlessness and indifference of modern life. In our every-day efforts to act coherently, alleged normalcy is often blurred with madness. Is our daily routine in a city under red alert, bombs, extreme traffic jams and unbearable construction works more rational than the search for a cat stuck in a pipe?

Zuhal’s 36-hour pursuit is depicted closely, in a tender and humorous narrative. Talkative moments are as important as silences. Throughout the pursuit she faces various encounters, each a performance. The film’s tone is based on the absurdity that comes of such human conversations in modern settings.


Born in Ankara, Turkey. Studied Film and TV in the Netherlands and got her master degree from University of Utrecht. After working in the Netherlands and then in Los Angeles as a screenwriter, she returned to Turkey in 2009. She has written and directed three short films [Trust Me (2009), Later (2012), The Horse and the Nightingale (2013)] that were screened international film festivals such as Uppsala, Hamptons and Sao Paolo. In 2010 she worked as one of the screenwriters of the omnibus called Do Not Forget Me Istanbul, in which Hany Abu-Assad shot the story she wrote. Since then she has been working as a screenwriter for TV series and feature films for productions of Turkey and of the Netherlands. Zuhal will be her debut feature.

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