‘Kuma’ means ‘second wife’ in Turkish, and Umut Dag’s debut feature is indeed a claustrophobic domestic drama about a second wife. Kuma starts out wide, with a wedding in a Turkish village; amidst the clamour and the colour, several facts reveal themselves. Fatma (Nihal Koldas) is very ill; her son Hasan (Murathan Muslu) has just married a local girl called Ayse (Begüm Akkaya), and they are all travelling back to Vienna where they will live together.
On their return, however, it becomes clear that all this is an elaborate ruse, and the young Ayse has been brought to Austria to become second wife to the ageing family patriarch, Mustafa (Vedat Erincin), with the full blessing – if not connivance – of his ailing first wife Fatma. In this sealed-off Turkish community, appearances are everything and everybody guards their secrets, but the timid and well-meaning Ayse may yet effect a change.
Director Umut Dag displays a marked sensitivity for the plight of his characters, assisted by intriguing camerawork from Carsten Thiele and a screenplay of unexpected depth by Petra Ladinigg.
Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International