A Regular Woman
Hatun Aynur Sürücü had so much potential. She was training to be an electrician and she had a son named Can. But she died when she was only 23 years old, a victim of an “honor killing” carried out by a member of her own family. A Regular Woman is her story.
Even though it’s not a documentary, A Regular Woman feels a lot like one. Director Sherry Hormann (Desert Flower) and writer Florian Oeller (Deadly Leaks) begin by introducing us to Aynur (Almila Bagriacik, Hordur), a young woman of Turkish descent living with her family in Berlin. She was a normal German kid in a lot of ways (in 8th grade, her favorite song was Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy With It”). But as the daughter of conservative Muslim parents, she’s married off to a cousin as a teenager, and when she returns home to flee domestic violence, her family is less than welcoming. From there, we follow her journey as she grows distant from her family and her Muslim culture.
Director Hormann explained to a Tribeca Film Festival press audience that Oeller’s script “meticulously follows the case’s court files.” Actual photos and video footage from Aynur’s life are spliced in every now and then, bringing a solemn ring of truth to the story and increasing the narrative’s gut punch.
It wasn’t a happy or cheerful watch, but I’m really glad I saw it. It hit close to home in a lot of ways that I didn’t expect. The title rings true; Aynur might speak a language I don’t, but she and I have a lot in common!
Growing up in the American South, I was surrounded by Christian fundamentalism. In what might surprise you, what I saw of Aynur’s very conservative, religious family was a LOT like many families I knew growing up, even though they weren’t Muslim. Male entitlement knows no cultural boundaries. A Regular Woman really highlights the fact that fundamentalism and intolerance, no matter their shape, language, or religion, lead to death and harm. And usually at the expense of women and children.
There are so many powerful scenes, but my favorite was one where Aynur removes her headscarf in slow motion in front of a bathroom mirror, long hair cascading around her as the club’s dance music thumps in the background. Like many other woman, she faces this moment where she makes a decision to break free from her family’s expectations. And we get to see it!
This is the success of A Regular Woman. It gives Aynur her voice back, if just for an hour and a half, after it was so brutally stolen from her. And in doing so, it gives a voice to any woman who might be hurting, abused, or silenced.
“They won’t choose you,” one of Aynur’s brothers (her only ally) explains to her at one point, describing their family. Instead of her, they will choose their religious traditions, when push comes to shove. I hope A Regular Woman will help make that reality obsolete. Because every woman deserves to live, love, be free, and be believed.