Tülin Özdemir’s sensitive and moving story about a Turkish woman taken to Europe as a nine-year old and married off at 13 to a stranger five years her senior, is a timely tale of the iniquities of the age-old practice of arranged marriages in some cultures.
Red Moon is tightly focused around the close relationship between the village-born Hafize and her niece – for whom she was effectively a surrogate mother in Brussels during the first four years of her life in Belgium. The two women, separated in age by little more than 10 years, are collaborators in a joint expedition to unpick the generational damage poverty, paternalism and arranged marriages have done to them and the women of their clan.
A story of poverty, hopelessness and ancient rigidities emerges
Hafize’s journey is all about sifting through the identify that was thrust upon her as a child-wife, mother and carer – as she seeks liberation from a past that still weighs heavily upon her heart and soul.
A change of identities
The film begins and ends on grass-covered limestone cliffs high above the sea, as Hafize tells her niece of a bureaucratic mistake that meant, aged 6, she was identified as a boy and given a blue Turkish identify card, rather than pink.
The situation was only resolved later in a complex sleight of hand whereby she assumed the name and identify of an elder sister following the death of another sister.
Hafize – then Tüscany, which is normally a boy’s name in Turkey – eventually received the correct colour-coded card, though that did not stop her later being sent Turkish military call up papers in Tüscany’s name.
It may seem a rather obtuse entry point for the story of a woman the film’s teaser refers to as having been trafficked as a child to Europe, but for Red Moon’s heroine, this is almost an original sin, a proto-theft of identity that was to hound her through much of her life.
In her girlish imagination Belgium was a place «just beyond» nearby hills
As aunt and niece walk through the mostly …
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