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Buffalo Boy

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About the Inititative

Comprehensive list of all titles in the Global Lens collection.

Global Lens 2006
Global Lens 2005

- Buffalo Boy
- Daughter of Keltoum
- Fuse
- Hollow City
- Kabala
- Lili's Apron
- Today and Tomorrow
- Uniform
- What's a Human Anyway?
- Whisky

Global Lens 2004/2003


What's a Human Anyway? a film by Reha Erdem

Turkey, 2004 (124 minutes)


What's A Human Anyway? is set in modern-day Istanbul, Turkey. Thirty-five-year-old Ali (Ali Dusenkalkar) is knocked unconscious in an accident, possibly related to the robbery of a jewelry store, and has lost his memory. Although he remembers many of the people who live in his apartment building, he cannot remember his father, Rasih (Küksal Engur), a retired health officer. Rasih is vexed by this state of affairs and continuously insults his son and his amnesia. Coming to recognize the strange reality of being human, Ali is like a newborn baby, not only trying to remember past events, but also exploring his own body.

Mirroring Ali's confusion, all the characters in the story find themselves in a state of chaos — chaos being life itself. As Ali's father and neighbors try to help him remember, other comical characters are introduced.

Neriman (Isil Vucesoy) is a tailor who lives with her dog and 30-year-old son, Keten (Turgay Aydin). Keten, who is scared of his mother and continues to wet the bed, is in love with another neighbor, the pregnant Ipek (Senay Gurler). Ipek has been abandoned by her boyfriend, but insists on having the baby. The boyfriend continues to call her, demanding she return a ring he gave her. Instead, she sells it to a jewelry store, but immediately regrets the decision and tells Keten about it. Keten, wanting to impress Ipek, steals money from his mother to buy back the ring.

When his mother finds Keten with the ring, she demands to know where he got it. He lies and says that it was Ali's deceased mother's ring, and that Ali asked him to keep it safe. The ring continues to be passed among the neighbors, each claiming to be the owner, and Ali believing it truly was his mother's.

Meanwhile, Ali remembers two important things & that Rasih is his father, and that he was not involved with the robbery. He was knocked unconscious after falling out of a tree. He had been climbing it to retrieve a red ball he had seen on passing. Upset and embarrassed by this memory, he reveals it only to his friend Ayetkin (Aydogan Oflu), who is desperately trying to evade military service.

The neighborhood group comes together for the circumcision of the doorman's six-year-old son, Cetin (Ozam Uygun), who is terrified. With Cetin's circumcision, Ayetkin's decision to report for military duty, and Ali's memory restored, the confusion still continues when Ipek finds her ring and blames Ali for stealing it. With everyone yelling at one another, they don't immediately feel an earthquake. After a few tremors, they run outside, forgetting all about the ring. They are all happy to be alive.

Ipek eventually gives birth to a boy, and this dysfunctional "family" of friendly neighbors goes to the seaside to celebrate. When Neriman questions her son about the missing money, Keten admits to taking it to buy the ring. After his confession, he runs from the group and climbs a tall cliff. Once he reaches the top, he stands overlooking the ocean. Ali runs after him, climbs to the top and puts his arm around his friend.

In the film's finale, pieces of the intricate puzzle finally fit, and all of the events each character has experienced create a larger picture of what it means to be human.

About the Director

Reha Erdem began his studies in history at Bogazilfi University in Istanbul. In 1983, he went to Paris 8 University to major in Cinema and Modern Art and completed a graduate degree. He directed his first feature film, A Ay (Oh Moon) in 1989. It received awards at the Nantes Film Festival, and was screened at the Locarno, Moscow, Vancouver and Dunkerque Film Festivals. His second feature, Kalf Para Kalf (A Run for Money, 1999) represented Turkey at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. It was featured at the Tokyo, Munich, London, Oslo, Thessaloniki and Seattle Film Festivals. Erdem was invited to direct Hizmetlfiler (The Maids) by Jean Genet for the Istanbul National Theater in 1991. He directed a short film called Deniz Tlirklisu (The Sea Song), inspired by the poem of famous Turkish poet Yahya Kemal Beyatll. Since 1990, he has directed over a hundred TV commercials. In 1993, he founded Atlantik Film production company with Omer Atay.

Principal Cast


Production Company



Ali Düsenkalkar
Köksal Engür
Azru Bazam
Turgay Aydin
Isil Vücesoy
Senay Gürler
Ozam Uygun
Aydogan Oflu

Reha Erdem
Atlantic Film Yapim prod.
Ömer Atay
Nilüfer Guungörmüs
Reha Erdem
Florent Herry
Regis Leroux
Cedric Lionnet

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