Hördur (2015)

© NFP / Tobis © Storming Donkey Productions GmbH
© NFP / Tobis © Storming Donkey Productions GmbH
Directed by Ekrem Ergün

Originally from Turkey, seventeen-year-old Aylin lives with her father, who gets by only with part-time construction work, and her little brother Emre, whom she is tasked to care for after their mother's death. Her day-to-day life is beset with troubles and frustration, as she is constantly bullied at school and finds it difficult to have friends. She keeps her cool, but one day she could not contain it any longer and beats up the bully who has always been taunting her. As a consequence, she is forced to complete long hours of community service at an out-of-town stable, where Aylin discovers her talent for horseback riding and develops a strange friendship with an Icelandic wild horse named Hördur. But nothing in her life is easy: and she has to learn everything the hard way.

The title could be misleading, for Hördur isn't so much about the horse or its relationship with Aylin, but clearly about Aylin and her difficult teenage life in Germany as an immigrant, as a daughter dealing with her unreasonable father, as a caring sister doing all she can for her family, and as a dreamer challenged by circumstances but intent on grabbing the opportunity to do what she wants. Hördur, in many ways, represents Aylin and her aspirations, her freedom and limitations, Hördur being a horse that cannot return to its homeland, a settler like her living in a foreign land. Aylin isn't a very likeable character, but Almila Bagriacik's performance offers both force and vulnerability, exuding teenage angst and the melancholy that comes with her helplessness, making the audience root for Aylin no matter what. Hördur does not shy away from unnecessary flourishes, some excesses that defocus the story and weaken it, but the drama is affecting up to the very end, inspiring with the right amount of levelheadedness.

by Richard Bolisay