This suspenseful fifth feature by Cemil Ağacıkoğlu tells the story of a man in an Anatolian village whose livelihood is threatened by local gangs and whose life depends on waging — and winning — a battle between good and evil.



The Reeds

Cemil Ağacıkoğlu

In the rough landscape of central Turkey sits the village of Bolvadin. In it lies a lake upon which the villagers depend for their livelihoods. In this isolated place with its own codes and laws, greedy landlords and brutish gangs dominate the downtrodden people who have over time been convinced that survival depends on obedience.

Among them lives humble Ali (Hilmi Ahıska), who earns a meagre living cutting reeds. He is in love with his wife Aysel (Sevgi Temel), though their marriage is not without woes and is at a dangerous precipice. When a kingpin named Yahya (Gökhan Yıkılkan) pressures Ali to join his disreputable crew, Ali refuses, triggering enmity. Meanwhile, fed up with poverty, Aysel accepts the same offer. Distraught with her acquiescence and exposure to Yahya’s underworld, Ali makes a daring attempt to reverse her decision. His well-intentioned but hasty interference threatens his harvest and more. And when an altercation with one of Yahya’s men ends in tragedy, Ali must reap what he sows. The land, too, has memories and, as the legends of the lake’s curse decree, Ali must now look within himself and to the lessons of his birthright to overcome his enemies.

In the footsteps of author Yaşar Kemal, whose 1955 saga Memed, My Hawk foretold the need for rebellion in the human soul, writer-director Cemil Ağacıkoğlu returns to the place he’s visited and woven stories about for more than 30 years. The Reeds is a suspenseful and stark rumination on how the inner battles we wage define us.


Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival

Content advisory: violence


Fri Sep 08

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Fri Sep 08

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Sat Sep 09

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Mon Sep 11

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