Honey (2010 film)

Honey (Turkish: Bal) is a 2010 Turkish drama film directed by Semih Kaplanoğlu, the third and final installment of the "Yusuf Trilogy", which includes Egg and Milk.[1] It premiered on 16 February 2010 in competition at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival,[1][2][3] where it became the third Turkish film, after Susuz Yaz in 1964 and Head-On in 2004, to win the Golden Bear award.[4][5][5] The film, which went on general release across Turkey on 9 April 2010, was selected as Turkey's official candidate for the Best Foreign Film Oscar at the 83rd Academy Awards[6] but it did not make the final shortlist.[7]

Film poster
Directed bySemih Kaplanoğlu
Produced bySemih Kaplanoğlu
Johannes Rexin
Bettina Brokemper
StarringErdal Beşikçioğlu
CinematographyBarış Özbiçer
Edited byAyhan Ergürsel
Suzan Hande Güneri
Semih Kaplanoğlu
Kaplan Film Production
Release date
  • 11 February 2010 (2010-02-11) (Berlin)
  • 9 April 2010 (2010-04-09) (Turkey)
Running time
100 minutes
Budget€1.25 million


In the remote and undeveloped eastern Black Sea region, a six-year-old boy (Yusuf) wanders through the woods searching for his lost father, trying to make sense of his life.[5] His father is a beekeeper whose bees have disappeared unexpectedly, threatening his livelihood.[5] A bizarre accident kills the father.[8] There is little dialogue or music in the film.[5] The three main characters (Yusuf and his parents) are all fairly taciturn, and the soundtrack is filled out with the sounds of the forest and the creatures that live there.[9] The environment is a recurring theme.[10]



Honey is the last installment of Kaplanoğlu's autobiographical "Yusuf Trilogy", named after the central character, preceded by Egg (Yumurta, 2007) and Milk (Süt, 2008).[11] Egg was screened at Cannes, Milk at Venice.[12] The trilogy runs in reverse chronological order,[13] and Honey explores Yusuf's early childhood.

The film was shot in Çamlıhemşin district in Rize Province in northeastern Turkey, and was jointly produced by Turkey's Kaplan Film Production and Germany's Heimatfilm,[14] and shot in the mountains of Turkey.[5] The scriptwriting was supported by a 25,000 Turkish lira grant (approx. €12,000 or $16,500) from Script Development Fund of the Antalya Eurasia Film Festival, while the production was supported by funding from the Council of Europe Eurimages fund, the North Rhine Westphalia Film Foundation and the television stations ZDF and Arte.[15][16]

Critical reception

The film received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 88%, out of 25 professional critics, gave the film a positive review.[17] Katja Nicodemus (Die Zeit) praised the film as an "existential narrative about the world view of a child, about loss and mourning". She picks out the calm rhythm and the landscape photography: "In Bal, you believe you can smell the rain drizzling on the boy on his way to school".[18] Detlef Kuhlbrodt (Die Tageszeitung) spoke of Kaplanoğlu's "meditative" film,[19] while Christina Tilmann (Tagesspiegel) described it as "one of the most beautiful and most intimate films of this festival", made from unspectacular ingredients "... a film that lets the viewer dream. It feels like wind, like oxygen, air that you want to keep with you for as long as you can. Or like the Sun shining in the forest through marvelously tower-high trees."[20]


Honey beat 19 other films from around the world to win the Golden Bear award.[8][21] Its win was seen as a "surprise" by some.[22] Kaplanoğlu reacted by recalling an encounter with a bear while filming, "The bear is now back."[21] At a press conference the director said: "In the name of Turkish Films, this is a very meaningful prize. It's a help to making better films".[23] It was nominated for Best Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography at the 23rd European Film Awards.[24]

See also


  1. "Bal-Honey Competing at the 60th Berlin Film Festival" (PDF). Kaplan Film. Retrieved 19 February 2010.
  2. "Bal (Honey) film file". Berlinale program. Retrieved 19 February 2010.
  3. "Berlin festival unveils full lineup", Hollywood Reporter, 1 February 2010
  4. Roman Polanski wins best director award at Berlin, BBC News, 20 February 2010.
  5. Berlinale reaches climax with awards ceremony, Deutsche Welle, 21 February 2010.
  6. "Bal/Honey to Represent Turkey in Acadamey Awards". TRT. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  7. "9 Foreign Language Films Continue to Oscar Race". oscars.org. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  8. "Polanski wins best director", The Straits Times, 21 February 2010.
  9. Bennett, Ray (17 February 2010), "Honey – Film Review", Hollywood Reporter.
  10. Kate Connolly (21 February 2010), "Roman Polanski wins best director prize in Berlin", The Guardian.
  11. Turkish film, Polanski winners at Berlin film fest, CBC News, 20 February 2010.
  12. Roderick Conway Morris (27 August 2008). "Golden Lion Prepares to Roar as Venice Opens Its Annual Film Festival". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
  13. "Egg" (PDF). Press Kit. Kaplan Film Production. 7 May 2007. Retrieved 30 April 2008.
  14. "Turkish film 'Bal' wins top honors at Berlinale". Deutsche Welle. 20 February 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
  15. "Council of Europe to support Turkish film", Hürriyet, retrieved 21 February 2010.
  16. Uehling, Peter (17 February 2010), "Die Seele in der Natur", Berliner Zeitung. (in German)
  17. Honey - Rotten Tomatoes
  18. Nicodemus, Katja (18 February 2010), "Ein Festival aus Wahn und Schnee", Die Zeit. (in German)
  19. Kuhlbrodt, Detlef (17 February 2010), "Teufel wispern in den Herzen der Menschen", Die Tageszeitung. (in German)
  20. Tilmann, Christina (17 February 2010), "Das rote Band", Der Tagesspiegel. (in German)
  21. "Turkish film scoops Golden Bear in Berlin". The Hindu. 21 February 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
  22. "Polanski wins Berlin's Best Director award". euronews. 21 February 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
  23. Tracey Gudwin (21 February 2010). "Turkish filmmaker top winner at Berlin film fest". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
  24. "Nominations for the 23rd European Film Awards". europeanfilmacademy.org. European Film Academy. 6 November 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
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