Taşkafa: Stories of the Street / Estate, a Reverie
Two tender portraits of community and solidarity from Andrea Luka Zimmerman come to DVD in another fine release from Second Run
These documentaries from filmmaker, artist and cultural activist Andrea Luka Zimmerman seem like strange bedfellows at first, but their seemingly incongruous subjects – Turkish street dogs and the residents of an East London housing estate – allow for compelling, passionate studies of dispossession.
Social cleansing, Zimmerman shows us, is a very real threat in even the most cosmopolitan societies. Those we don't understand are too often treated as a nuisance and hidden out of sight, the vulnerable residents of Hackney's Haggerston estate, who form the centre of Estate, a Reverie, being a case in point. Visited over seven years, the residents – immobile wheelchair users, widowers and Parkinson's sufferers among them – offer an insight into the gradual deterioration of their quality of life in the “problem estate” as well as their overall physical condition. Faced with eviction, each reflects on Britain's failure to uphold its post-war socialist ideals and value its working class.
The director portrays her subjects almost as sacred observers of folk history and ritual, whose situations and experiences are firmly at odds with what capitalist, profit-driven society deems acceptable. By pairing Estate, a Reverie with Taşkafa: Stories of the Street for this release, Second Run are clear on this point. The latter film shows that the dogs that once swarmed the streets of Istanbul, proudly protecting the city and its residents, have been recast as a flea-bitten nuisance at odds with false, romanticised notions of Turkey. With the state doing its best to eradicate the animals, leaving them to starve on unpopulated islands and feeding them with poisoned meat, it's fallen to the city's equally downtrodden poor to care for the creatures.
The director is happy to elucidate on these points in a bonus interview included here, while the essay accompanying the release is typically insightful. [Lewis Porteous]