by Giorgia Del Don, cineuropa 20/03/2023 At age 19 Mutlu Kaya overcame the trauma of being shot – but her story illuminates male violence in the country.
Mutlu Kaya had been warned her life was in danger if she sang on Sesi Cok Guze, a show similar to Britain's Got Talent.
My Name Is Happy focuses on the victims' point of view, highlighting the damage caused by a stereotypical and cruel gender binarism.
Ayse Toprak and Nick Read's film tells the incredible story of Mutlu, a Kurdish teenager with a golden voice who miraculously survives an attempted murder.
“Mutlu hasn’t only rediscovered her voice, but is using it as a powerful, defiant instrument of protest” - Screen Daily
Aspiring popstar Mutlu Kaya (Mutlu means ‘happy’ in Turkish) narrowly escapes an attempted femicide with her life. Despite life changing injuries, Mutlu goes in search of justice and to reclaim her voice as a singer.
Although the story told by Turkish director Ayse Toprak and acclaimed British documentary filmmaker Nick Read may seem extraordinary, the accompanying violence is sadly banal. Indeed, countless cases of feminicide plague a Turkish society corrupted by a patriarchal logic that destroys everything it encounters.
In competition in the Creation Documentaries section of the FIFDH in Genevawhere it received the Youth Jury Award and where, in the Industry section, it won the StoryBoard Impact Award, My Name Is Happyfocuses on the victims' point of view, highlighting the damage caused by a stereotypical and cruel gender binarism.
Mutlu, the film's protagonist, is a Kurdish teenager living in south-east Turkey. Although from the very first images one realises that there was a before and an after in her life (the first notes she sings do not seem to coincide with the crystal-clear voice she had when she was younger), the horror mixed with astonishment one feels on discovering what really happened to her is nevertheless immense.Mutlu, like all the members of her family, has always sung, but it is thanks to her participation in a famous talent show that her career in the music industry seems to have come to fruition. Back home to prepare for the final of the competition, however, her dream was abruptly shattered. Ending a story that seemed like a fairy tale is not the wicked witch, but a suitor whom Multu had rejected and who had turned into a real stalker for some time.
Documenting the aftermath of the tragedy are a series of painful images of Multu at the hospital where she struggles between life and death realising that she has lost not only her mobility but also her voice. What is then created is a support network where women act, fight, face the everyday head-on and men hide behind a pain they are not allowed to express. It is precisely through this dichotomy of behaviour that the film puts forward a cruel and absurd gender construction with all too often fatal consequences.Just when the horror seems to have reached its climax, another absurd drama strikes Mutlu and her family as if to underline the difficulty of breaking out of a spiral of horror that feeds on its own contradictions.
Although My Name Is Happy rightly puts forward the point of view of the victims, the reactions of the men around her (the brother and the father) help to structure a discourse that is not limited to the simplistic opposition between men and women. Between the inability to act due to a pain imprisoned in the father's heart and the brother's expression of indignation at a gender difference he does not accept, the film shows that the only possible way out of the horror is dialogue between the oppressed and the oppressor. Struggling to be able to sing again, Mutlu discovers that she has another voice and it is with this that she sets out to fight.
My Name Is Happy is produced by October Films and co-produced by Red Zed Films and Horovel Films. Autlook Filmsales handles international sales.