You've got to love a film that centres on a sheep washing contest.....
Cycle is a fictionalised documentary focussed on the annual sheep washing contest in the Turkish village of Hasanpasa. Characters are mostly played by local people, so there is a real sense of authenticity about the story. Preparation for the contest starts with collecting red stones to make a dye that the sheep are painted in. Then the sheep parade (at top speed) through the village and into a pond where they're washed. There's a festive atmosphere around the event, which is televised and endlessly discussed in the village.
Ali, a young shepherd from the village, becomes disillusioned when he fails to win the competition and he leaves the village to seek his fortune in the town. However, the only work he can find is in an abbatoir, and having to take part in large scale mechanised slaughter of the animals he loves makes him reconsider and he returns home to the village, where, still disatisfied with shepherding, he takes a job with a mining company. The company is threatening the traditional life of the village, not least by restricting access to the source of the rocks for the red sheep dye (will Ali be happy working for them?).
This is a beautifully made, insightful film that offers a sense of optimism and hope that the younger generation can learn from the past and use it to inform a fulfilling future for themselves. There's also a beautiful circularity (implied in the title) that sees the film end up where it started (both at the sheep washing contest and with the symbolic appearance of a beautiful deer) but with everything changed.
Cycle is showing as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival:
2140, 23 June and 1805, 24 June both at Cineworld.
Earlier today, I reviewed Lilou's Adventure.
Disclaimer, I have a press pass for the Edinburgh International Film Festival and attended free press screenings for these films.