On the Way to School
Orhan Eskikoy, Özgür Dogan, Turkey / The Netherlands, 2008, color, HDcam, 80'
The young Turkish teacher Emre Aydin has been appointed by the government to go teach at a school in a remote and impoverished Kurdish village. He arrives in the village at the beginning of the school year to a few unpleasant surprises. There's no running water in the village and the students don't show up for class. On the Way to School follows Aydin during the entire academic year. The camera observes him and his students in a fly-on-the-wall kind of way. The majority of the documentary takes place in the classroom, where we see how tough an assignment it is for Aydin to teach here. Many families only speak Kurdish at home, so learning Turkish isn't only hard for the kids, but it's also a sensitive matter as far as the strained relations between Kurds and the Turkish state are concerned. Aydin feels like a foreigner in his own country, but he's determined to accomplish the task at hand. For the most part, he's a friendly and patient instructor, but when students write Kurdish words in their notebooks, he loses his cool and kicks them all out of class. He proceeds to grab his cell phone and call home, where his mother lovingly gives him her ear.