Block C (C Blok) (1994) Film. Director : Zeki Demirkubuz


C Blok (Block-C, 1994) is Zeki Demirkubuz’s first film. Before he plunged into shooting Block-C, he had never even shot a short. Although Demirkubuz has expressed his dissatisfaction with the outcome, saying the film carried too many characteristics of classical mainstream Turkish cinema, it almost seems like he had to make this film before he could go on to refine his style and work out his main concerns. Indeed, it is surprising that an intense and passionate film like Masumiyet (Innocence, 1997) was to follow the cold and detached Block-C. However, many of Demirkubuz’s signature motifs—the infamous TV set, his slow-paced editing, the frames within frames that surround his characters with darkness in long lingering shots—are already identifiable in this first film. At the same time, Block-C features two striking anomalies of his filmography: the main character is middle-class and a woman. With the exception of Itiraf (Confession, 2001), Demirkubuz has not returned to consider primarily middle-class concerns or put the focus solely on a female character.

Block-C’s Tülay (Serap Aksoy) is a housewife married to a businessman (Selçuk Yöntem) who takes too many business trips and usually for too long. She is left behind in their bleak apartment, which is in Block-C of a middle-class high-rise apartment complex in Ataköy, Istanbul. These blocks were built during the 1980s, a period of economic liberalization and political reconstitution in Turkey that brought drastic change to the social structure. Tülay and her husband represent the new middle class that also emerged during those years. In Demirkubuz’s vision, this period and the consequences of such rapid change are reified in the inhospitable, isolated apartment complexes. Demirkubuz has likened the Ataköy buildings to housing projects in Franco’s Spain or Stalin’s Russia, and uses them as a metaphor for imprisonment, a recurring theme in his subsequent films. Even the title of the film, Block-C, accentuated by the enclosing, circular form of the letter C, is reminiscent of a prison structure. Demirkubuz was an inmate in Block-C of the penitentiary during his imprisonment after the 1980 coup; and Tülay is an inmate in Block-C of this high-rise complex in Ataköy. In almost every shot the blocks either block her vision or surround her like prison walls. They insistently invade the frame, ominously hovering in the background, giving Tülay the impression of “monsters rising in the dark.”

The opening shot of windshield wipers monotonously slapping back and forth evokes a sense of Tülay’s life: flat, boring, and repetitive. She is trapped by the conflicting expectations of her roles of traditional wife and modern woman. Her only means of escape is her new car, which she takes on little pleasure trips. Then, one day Tülay comes back home early from one of her trips and finds her maid Aslı (Zuhal Gencer) and the janitor’s son Halet (Fikret Kuşkan) in bed having sex. Confused but also peculiarly intrigued, Tülay begins to search for what she believes has been missing in her life. Although, at first she seems to be in search of sexual fulfillment, her actions are in fact attempts to break free from the confines of her destiny—yet another central theme in Demirkubuz’s films, most recently explored in the tellingly titled Destiny (Kader, 2006). However, anticipating the destiny of many Demirkubuz characters, Tülay’s journey turns out to be a severely unsettling one .(


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