For Teachers and Students (10): Discussion Questions for My Father and Son (Çağan Irmak, 2005)

My Father and Son (Babam ve Oğlum in Turkish) is a Turkish film directed and written by Cagan Irmak. The cast includes Fikret Kuskan, Cetin Tekindor, Humeyra, Serif Sezer, Ozge Ozberk, Binnur Kaya, Ege Tanman, Yetkin Dikinciler. The film is 108 min. The DVD has English subtitles.

Discussion Questions for “My Father and Son” (Çağan Irmak, 2005)

my-father-and-son1.jpgContextualizing “My Father and Son”

In Turkey, the multiparty regime started in 1946. Since then, the country has witnessed three military interludes: the first one between 1960 and 1961; the second one between 1971 and 1973 and the last one between 1980 and 1983. The opening scenes in Çağan Irmak’s “My Father and Son” take place only a few hours before the declaration of military intervention on September 12, 1980. Do some research to find out information about the economic, social and political events that led up to the 1980 military coup, why the army thought the intervention was the sole option, how the civilians reacted to the coup, and how it affected Turkish society. Discuss to what extent the information you collect can help you understand the film.

1. Identify the narrators in the film and discuss what they might have in common.
2. What does Deniz’s name signify?
3. What does Sadık’s name signify?
4. Identify some children’s heroes used in the film and discuss how they might contribute to our understanding of the film, its characters and the relationships between them.
5. Comment on the director’s choice of the following four settings in the film: Istanbul, a small town, a farmhouse, and the secret room in the farmhouse.
6. Discuss the effects of the 1980 military intervention on Turkish people as depicted in the film.
7. Discuss what the film could be suggesting by referring to the Turkish Independence War.
8. Comment on the Marxist motif in the film with regard to Sadık’s father.
9. Comment on how patriarchy affects the relationship between a father and a son as depicted in the film.
10. “My Father and Son” presents Sadık and his father in opposition to one another. However, when examined closely, it is obvious that they have quite a lot in common in what they do. Identify and comment on these similarities.
11. Comment on the significance of “family” in the film. To what extent can you consider it a microcosm of Turkish society in the wake of the 1980 military coup?
12. To what extent would you call “My Father and Son” a film about the 1980 military coup? Why? Why not? Why does the director set the family crisis in the background of a military intervention?

© Ali Nihat Eken, İstanbul, November 2007


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