SF Indie Fest: Niyazi Gul Dortnala

Niyazi Gul Dortnala (2015), dir. Hakan Algül

Niyazi Gul Dortnala (2015), dir. Hakan Algül

Easily one of the most delightful and earnest films screening at SF IndieFest this season. Much credit goes to filmmaker/actor/stand-up comedian Ata Demirer in the starring role of Niyazi, the hapless veterinarian with a heart of gold (mixed in with all-natural vitamins). Niyazi is slightly clumsy, absent-minded and formal, but he is a highly-respected member of the local community, all middle-class prosperity, erudition (he teaches veterinary courses at the local university), and honest pragmatism. While he may make corny jokes and be oblivious to the attentions of his lovestruck assistant, his singular power to empathize with and heal members of the animal kingdom sets him apart from pedestrian humans. Mr. Demirer has a very expressive face which ranges from the innocent to the professorial to the outraged. The bulk of his body, emphasized by the jackets and ties his mentor/grandfather would have approved of, further enhances his solidity and affinity for the animal kingdom. Like a gentle, giant beast, he will take some kidding and prodding but will buck at outright abuse from humans. His comic timing is matched by his earnestness, allowing the film to skirt playfully between comedy and satire. The film’s moral statement – an Animal Planet version of “do unto others” is embodied in the galloping vet Niyazi. While all those around him blindly follow their animal instincts for sex, hunting, decadence, and money, his animal empathy keeps his own animal instincts under control.

With an outrageous cast of supporting animals, including chameleons, thoroughbred horses, circus bears, and one sensitive German Shepherd.

Niyazi Gul Dortnala (Niyazi Gul, The Galloping Vet)., dir. Hakan Algül, 106 min. Besiktas Kültür Merkezi, et al., 2015. In Turkish. Now playing at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival.

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