The Herd

Screening on Film
Directed by Zeki Ökten.
With Tarik Akan, Melike Demirag, Tuncel Kurtiz.
Turkey, 1978, 35mm, color, 129 min.
Turkish with English subtitles.

The Herd has a simple premise that it utilizes to devastating effect: the economic survival of a Kurdish family depends on its ability to drive its herd of sheep from the mountains to Ankara. The film follows the driving of the herd; the constant threats to the livestock and the family serve both as a kind of ethnographic documentary and as existential (and political) parable. Explaining to an interviewer about his use of metaphor and allegory to express himself politically in his films, Güney declared that the subject of The Herd was the history of the Kurds. At the same time, he noted, the film was made in Turkish; any public use of the Kurdish language was illegal at the time. – DP

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