“Kismet,” directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Nina Maria Paschalidou, is a film that exposes the impact of Turkish soap operas on women across the world. The AUBG Documentary Movie Club, in collaboration with SAGE AUBG and Women & Gender Resources Center, screened the film on Monday, April 20.
“Kismet” deals with a variety of different issues surrounding women in the Middle East and East European countries. Rape, cultural crossroads, custody battles over children, divorce, child brides – all of these topics are covered in four soap operas featured in the documentary. For example, the TV series “Noor” pictures a non-traditional family in the eyes of Turkish people. Marriage in the show is a modern partnership, in which a husband supports his wife’s career ambitions and accepts the economic freedom she has.
The impact of such images on society is tremendous. In some of these countries, the Internet is still a new thing and is not as popular, whereas television affects people as much as it did decades ago. The documentary shows the positive effects that soap operas have on society.
The main goal of any soap opera is to make the viewer identify with characters on the screen.
“They gave us a picture of what we want to be in the future. We want to be better and we deserve to be better,” said one of the women in the documentary.
For many women who never knew there is a possibility for divorce or who did not have the courage to fight for justice, the soap operas were life saving. They watch stories such as “Fatmagul” and “Life Goes On” on TV and they realize that they are not hopeless. They decide to take the situation in their own hands and break their silence: they leave abusive husbands, go to the police, and share their own stories to inspire other women.
The idea for the film came to Paschalidou unexpectedly.
“A Turkish friend of mine talked to me about this when I lived in Washington, DC,” she said. “And then I started reading some articles about it, and when I came back to Greece in summer I realized my grandma was watching these soap operas like crazy.”
During the Q&A session after the screening, Paschalidou answered the questions of the audience about “Kismet”. She told the audience about how to fund your documentary and what to think about when you choose the topic for it. She also shared some details about her next project – a trilogy dealing with the struggles of women in India.