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Uzak is a 2002 Turkish film directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. It was released as Distant in North America, a straight translation of its title.


Uzak tells the story of Yusuf (Mehmet Emin Toprak), a young factory worker who loses his job and travels to Istanbulmarker to stay with his relative Mahmut (Muzaffer Özdemir) while looking for a job. Mahmut is a wealthy and intellectual photographer, whereas Yusuf is illiterate, uneducated, and unsophisticated. The two do not get on well. Yusuf assumes that he will easily find work as a sailor, but there are no jobs, and he has no sense of direction or energy. Meanwhile, Mahmut, despite his wealth, is aimless too: his job, which consists of photographing tiles, is dull and inartistic, he can barely express emotions towards his ex-wife or his lover, and while he pretends to enjoy intellectual filmmakers like Andrei Tarkovsky, he switches channels to watch porn as soon as Yusuf leaves the room.

Mahmut attempts to bond with Yusuf and recapture his love of art by taking him on a drive to photograph the beautiful Turkish countryside, but the attempt is a failure on both counts. At the end of the film, Yusuf leaves without telling Mahmut, who is left to sit by the docks, watching the ships on his own.

Significance of title

The use of the word distant rather than distance shifts emphasis from the gap itself to the the state of existence. While Yusuf is from the village, Mahmut lives in the city. Although they are able to bridge the geographical distance they remain emotionally and spiritually distant. Mahmut spends his days in the city trying to cope with loneliness and emotional vacuum. While the arrival of his cousin Yusuf should have filled in that hollowness it only proves to deepen for both of them. The film portrays the alienation brought about by increasing globalization and urbanization.

It is also aptly and to an extent ironically picturized in the scene where Yusuf tells Mahmut of his intention to find a job on a ship. To which Mahmut replies that a sailor's job is tough and consists of sailing to far away lands totally cut off from civilization and asks him if he would choose such a life of loneliness and solitude. Yusuf in return says that he only cares about the money as he had heard there were chunks of money in the sailing business. This in a way reflects the mentality and the desperation of the modern generation and their willingness to distance themselves from their objects of love and passion for the sake of material wealth and a junk lifestyle.


Uzak won 17 awards and 2 nominations, including the Grand Prix and Prix d'interprétation masculine, shared by two actors of the film at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.



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