Seven to nine-year-old children from Kushtepe (Kuştepe), a run-down neighbourhood behind the skyscrapers of Istanbul, can answer such questions without winking an eye. Their parents have come to Istanbul from various regions of Anatolia to find work. They are growing up in miserable living conditions. The private Bilgi University, built in the middle of the neighbourhood, offers free music lessons for the children of the quarter. And they enjoy taking part, learning not only theory but also instruments and singing.
Roma children who also live in the neighbourhood are in a different situation. Music is a family tradition for them. Many of their parents are musicians themselves. By the way, almost half of all professional musicians in Istanbul are of Roma origin. However, the Roma impose strict rules that learning this craft is a family matter.
With this film, Nedim Hazar and his team invite audiences to immerse in the two different worlds of the children of Kushtepe.
They all want to become musicians when they grow up. These are young girls who yearn for the green landscapes of their place of origin, where they can rarely go to, due to lack of money and whose mothers clean the corridors of the same university where they take lessons. And young Roma who are in no way inferior to their fathers who accompany soloists in restaurants and nightclubs to earn their living. The Roma kids want to become studio musicians, which among Roma means the recognition of their craft by the majority society. The others dream of composing symphonies.
Customers in the barbershop of the neighbourhood bring the painful truth to the table: although all people in Kuschtepe love music, the main issue is not the musical education of the children, but their daily struggle for survival.
In the meantime, Bilgi University has moved out of Kushtepe.
Available here with English subtitles, this film was shot in 2004 and screened at various international festivals.
Nedim Hazar Bora
Skopje - Golden Wheel Film Festival
Istanbul 1001 Documentary
Munich Turkish Film Days