The Swedish Palace in Istanbul has a wonderful series of activities varying from network meetings, digital gatherings and film nights. The season finale of the film nights of this year took place on June 4th, 2015 with the screening of the film “Reunion” (Återträffen)  by Anna Odell who brilliantly reveals the society’s power structures, culture of bullying and mobbing.
The invitations were sent out weeks earlier, although I did not personally check the content of the film (mostly, in order not to get any accidental spoilers, and partly because I trusted the quality of the selection). Not knowing the genre, story, plot of the film, I had no idea what to expect when the opening scene showed an empty school corridor. But, given that the title of the film was “Reunion”, I was thinking “It must be taking place at a school’s garden”.
This was not the case; the alumni were to meet at a party organized by one of the graduates, 20 years after graduation. The first fifty minutes of the film was not only brilliantly portraying a person’s psychological situation as a result of heavy bullying throughout adolescence, but also disturbing the viewers in so many aspects. One could feel the burden of similar attitudes which took place in their earlier years, or consider a part of their life where they were the ones who put that kind of pressure on other people. No matter what, it opened the viewers eyes to the past and cause a self-questioning period during the film.
Then came in the silent corridors again. The first part of the film that we saw appears to be a film in the film. One by one we see the actors who portray the actual people who belong to the youth of the protagonist, the director herself. As she keeps inviting the others to watch the film with her, we can see how attitudes change. To begin with the bullies of her past do not appear to be as horrible as they are portrayed in the film inside the film. Yet, in the aftermath it is possible to see how these characters are playing much cooler to avoid the interaction and accusations. The bullying continues till the 30s of the characters and as it is not contested, they continue to disturb the society in their ways.
The film reveals the importance of manner-moderation and the facts on how cruel children can be. In the aftermath of the film, we the viewers at the Swedish Palace have discussed the issue briefly. Then this lively discussion made me think about mobbing in work places. As it is a kind of concept I only came to understand during my military service, it is impossible to unlearn it now. And I regard this phenomenon the same way as I have learnt in the first place: people act like in kindergarten and primary school throughout their lives. Over the last few years, I have come to see how some children are deemed as “unwanted” at school, just like some employees in companies. And the methods of discrimination, casting out and distancing one’s self from that designated person almost never changes. Yet, most people are not as courageous as Anna Odell in facing their childhood bullies and standing up to them.
It has been a good season that ended with a rather disturbing, dramatic film, which has triggered many thoughts and left us with inspiration for the upcoming season with regards to the new projects that we will curate. The ending of the film, shows a significant scene. Anna Odell with her friend sittin on top of a roof and the view keeps distancing from the couple upwards, like the feeling of Odell’s spirit. And the burden remains on the minds and hearts of the bullies in the end. This can have big impact on our societies, as the experimental children that get raised in completely isolated atmospheres might save the parents’ the trouble of dealing with a child who grows up in problematic environment, but creates a bigger burden for the future of that child who will face a culture-shock the moment s/he mingles with the crowds of bullies.