Chicago International Film Festival 2016: Rauf
By Devvon Eubanks
A young boy finds love in the midst of a turbulent country in “Rauf,” from directors Soner Caner and Baris Kaya. Rauf (Alen Gursoy) is a mischievous 9-year-old child who dislikes school and acts up in class, and is frequently sent home for not taking his lessons seriously. Rauf's father, noticing his son is missing school often, decides maybe he would be better off learning a trade. Thus, Rauf is passed on to one of his friends, Ahmet (Yavuz Gurbuz), a carpenter who teaches the youth about what he does over a series of months. While living in a new village with his new “master,” Rauf encounters Ahmet’s 20-year-old daughter, Zana (Seyda Sozuer), and instantly falls in love with her, not understanding what love truly means. Trying to win Zana’s heart and impress her father, Rauf grows to become a responsible young lad in a world surrounded by war and conflict. The background of the film is pretty decent, as the place Rauf lives in is surrounded by an occasional helicopter or hails of gunfire at night. Guerilla warfare is present in the outskirts of the setting and is alluded to at times, but it does not play a major role in the plot. The cinematography and soundtrack are top-notch, and there are many great shots and musical scores which evoke a lot of emotion that will easily grab the viewer. However, the pacing quite slow and takes a while to really get going, focusing first on Rauf’s relationship with his own family and his best friends, and then moving onto his new kinship with Ahmet and Zana. Also, apart from working with Ahmet and being infatuated with Zana, there is not much else to the plot. Once Zana is introduced, Rauf is basically obsessed with finding her something pink to emphasize his love for her. Surrounding that central theme is Rauf’s work in the carpenter’s shop and occasional time with others in the village, and that is all. For a film that has such a wonderful musical score and great emotion, it is a travesty that there isn’t a lot of action, or that the war around them doesn’t directly affect Rauf or the other characters. “Rauf” has a few issues, but it also has some solid visuals and musical features that will appeal to the heart.