Isztambul: Finding freedom, far from home

How does a woman go about getting back on her feet and rebuilding her life after breaking up with the father of her children- a man she has been with for three decades? That’s the question Hungarian director Ferenc Török attempts to answer in Isztambul.

Isztambul follows Katalin (played by Dutch actress Johanna ter Steege), who has been married for 30 years to architecture professor Janos (Andor Lukáts) and is the mother of two adult children: Zsofi (Réka Tenki), who is about to have a baby, and student Zoli (Varga Norbert). When Janos callously leaves Katalin for one of his young students, the shock makes her react in a way which neither her friends nor her family can understand. For Katalin, this break up and its consequences do not bring tears and shouting, rather they result in silence and a spur-of-the-moment decision to run away. Admitted to a hospital in order to be sedated, she flees and her escape takes her to Turkey, where she meets Halil (Yavus Bingol), a Turkish site foreman. Her family becomes worried when they learn of her flight, and warning the police, they set off to search for her.

Ferenc Török (director of seven feature length films, amongst them the award-winning Moscows Square and the recent No Man’s Island) has created  in Isztambulan intimate, subtle and moving film that studies the actions of highly-strung Katalin, who wins twice over by ridding herself of her oppressive family and finding happiness elsewhere. 

After screening at film festivals in Dublin in 2011 and Shanghai in 2012, and its release on national screens in February 2012, Isztambul is now available in 13 European countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Sweden, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Norway, Spain, Slovakia and Hungary. Written by the director, Isztambul is a coproduction between Hungary, the Netherlands, Ireland and Turkey.

 Trailer UK:


General Trailer:

27 July 2015, by Cineuropa

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