Zenne Dancer

DIRECTORS: M. Caner Alper, Mehmet Binay

Expected guests: directors Caner Alper and Mehmet Binay, actors Kerem Can and Erkan Avci

Life in Turkey is guided by traditional values, in place for centuries—from religious fervor and family to the military. Tradition and modern culture collide in the lives of three gay men. Daniel (Giovanni Arvaneh) is an acclaimed photographer from Munich who comes to Istanbul to bring new inspiration to his craft. Can (Kerem Can), a statuesque male belly dancer, ventures out only at night to avoid the authorities that are searching for him for dodging the draft into the national army, a requirement for all Turkish men. His friend Ahmet (Erkan Avci) has left the rural countryside to look for a bearish lover, resulting in avoiding “the shadow” that is spying on him and reporting to his maniacally religious mother and confused father.

As Daniel comes to love Ahmet, he sacrifices his career and makes their relationship about saving a fearful Ahmet from the oppression of family and country. Imaginative Can dreams of being free from the gilded cage he’s constructed—physically and emotionally. The word “zenne” refers to male performers who dress in women’s clothing and dance in front of an audience. Can desperately wants to escape, like the proverbial bird in a cage. Finally, Daniel pushes Ahmet to make a decision with tragic results, an action that also brings promise of freedom and fulfillment.

Adapted from actual events, directors M. Caner Alper and Mehmet Binay (Whispering Memories and Talking Pictures) breathe life into a story of courage and self-discovery, offering hope of a better day.


In Turkish, German and English with English subtitles.

This film contains graphic depictions of homophobic violence.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: F150

Co-presented by:
San Francisco MovieBears

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