of the Island
Documentary Series / 2013 / 6 X 35 MIN.
“The Women of the Island” - these are six women who, for a variety of reasons, live on Burgazada, one of the Princes’ Islands near Istanbul. Historically, the Princes’ Islands have always been a refuge for politically persecuted people, for minorities and for artists. More recently, it has also become a place for women who have a hard time in the big city.
Photos: Gülşin Ketenci
Katrin, divorced, is an unemployed accountant and an indigenous Istanbulian, i.e. Greek. The lawyer Inci is also divorced and has lived on the island for 20 years. Rana came to Burgazada with her husband, a writer, and remained there after his death. Hediye came from Anatolia as a bride when she was 16; her late husband was a coachman. The young American textile designer Claire lives there together with her boyfriend, who is also from the US, translates classical Turkish literature into English. Burgazada has become the collective home for them all.
“The Women of the Island” tells the stories, concerns, fears and dreams of these women. In the course of the series, there are journeys to the places of their origin. The women visit relatives and friends in Anatolia, on the Black Sea coast and in Northern Greece. At the same time, they rehearse for a theatre play about the relatively new legend of Madame Marta, the secret heroine of Burgazada.
Madame Marta wanted to be a dancer. As an Armenian from Egypt, she came to Istanbul very young by marriage. But she could get used to her new surroundings. She preferred and moved over the island where her husband’s family had a summer residence. She lived there until her death. They say that she went swimming naked in the sea every day, summer and winter, and was stared at by young and old Anatolian coachmen. Old photos prove friendly relations between this free spirit woman and the Anatolians and their families. Recently an islands’ bay was named after her.
The culture journalist Tayfun Atay praises the series as very rare for Turkish television, “a documentary series from a female perspective”. He describes the director as feminist.
“The Women of the Island” was initially intended for primetime airing and was produced as such. Due to a change of power in NTV in favour of the Erdogan government in 2013, the series was eventually broadcast in a less frequented slot on Saturday afternoons. Nevertheless, it still achieved considerable ratings and good press response. Nedim Hazar was fired from the station after this production.
The episodes are unfortunately only available here in Turkish. The 7 min. trailer is nevertheless recommendable and gives a good impression of the series.
Director of Photography