TURKISH HIP-HOP DRAMA “WHEN I’M DONE DYING” TO SCREEN IN COMPETITION AT TALLINN BLACK NIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL
Award- winning writer/director Nisan Dağ (Across the Sea) brings a rare and authentic look into Turkish hip-hop culture and the lives of Turkish youth, set against the backdrop of modern-day Istanbul in WHEN I’M DONE DYING.
Starring Oktay Cubuk and Hayal Köseoğlu as the film’s star-crossed lovers, and with original music from acclaimed rapper and MC Da Poet, the film’s electrifying songs showcase the plight of these young people for a different life.
In Istanbul, an aspiring rapper falls hard for
an affluent DJ and engages in a relationship
that soon becomes toxic.
Fehmi, a 19-year-old aspiring rapper from a rough neighbourhood
in Istanbul, is approached by a top recording
producer and knows this could be his big break. When
Fehmi meets Devin, a 25-year-old affluent DJ, they fall
hard for each other and find the inspiration they were
both lacking. But the flaming love affair of this unlikely
duo soon becomes toxic as Fehmi finds it harder and
harder to control his addiction to bonzai, a cheap and
deadly drug. WHEN I’M DONE DYING is an emotional
rollercoaster into the lives of Istanbul’s youth, steeped
in edgy rap composed by one of the most acclaimed
beatmakers and rappers in Turkey, Da Poet.
I discovered the hip-hop subculture in Istanbul’s rough
yet conservative slums, whilst directing a documentary
for MTV. At first, I was fascinated by the stark dichotomy
between the young generation that worshiped Tupac and
dressed like Nicki Minaj, yet attended Friday prayer at the
local mosque, and had parents who wore full hijabs. After
volunteering to teach in workshops there, having spent
nearly 2 years in these neighborhoods, I was inspired
to see the young generation taking strength from their
passion for rap music. There were all sorts of difficulties
in these slums: poverty, jailed parents, domestic violence,
mob violence, discrimination and lack of education.
Cheap deadly drugs that are easily accessible in every
corner, were offering an escape from all the darkness in
their lives. On the other hand, some took the other exit
and chose rap music.
HIP-HOP AS A WAY OUT
Before rap music became a big trend nationwide in Turkey, it
was first embraced in the slums. The youth in these impoverished
communities saw rap as a vocal weapon, a tool to get
their voices heard. Rap has been more than a trend and more
of a savior in these communities.
Prior to rap music, arabesque music had been the big trend
in these neighborhoods. In arabesque music, people express
their sorrows and hardships in life through complaint. What’s
different in rap, is the powerful and rebellious attitude that’s
embedded in the origin of the genre. The traditional arabesque
form doesn’t have that element and that’s why the youth loved
rap culture. As I directed the Rebel Music documentary for
MTV and during the 2 years I spent in the slums afterwards, I
have been equally appalled by the challenges the youth face
in the slums and how strongly they have come to embrace it,
thanks to the inspiration they draw from figures like Tupac.
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