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Witness

Mustafa's Sweet Dreams

A moving and joyful coming-of-age tale of a young man, determined to become a master in the art of making baklava.
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2012 07:35

Filmmaker: Angelos Abazoglou

Mustafa is a young apprentice pastry-maker who dreams of becoming a baklava master in Istanbul.

This Witness film takes us on a journey to Gaziantep in south-eastern Turkey, the capital of baklava-making, where over 300 workshops strive to make this 'heavenly' cake.

Mustafa's Sweet Dreams, is a film about the impulsiveness of youth and the importance of pursuing one's dreams. It is a moving and joyful coming-of-age tale which will speak to anyone who has ever wanted to fulfill their dreams.

We follow Mustafa as he struggles to make his dream come true, eventually heading to Istanbul, where he is desperate to make a name for himself, to become rich and respected and to leave poverty behind.

But his journey is complex, the dream elusive and Mustafa finds more than just the bright lights and baklava at his destination.

This award-winning film is exquisite to look at and beautifully paced, a poignant quest by a winsome young man battling impossible odds.

Filmmaker's view: Angelos Abazoglou

I went through a dual education during my childhood, one was at school in France where I grew up, and the other was more like a master-disciple relationship.

My father, a learned man of Ottoman origin, got married for the first time in his late fifties and had set his mind to impart all his knowledge to his son.

On each day of the school year, we would wake up at five in the morning and before taking the school bus at seven, I would spend two hours with him.

This was when he shared with me his knowledge of science, arts, beauty and the practical world. I could have complained and refused to come out of bed so early but I did not - God knows why.

Today, I remember with pleasure those particular moments when, still lost in my dreams, my father's teachings would shape me.

I intuitively knew that his explanations would allow me one day to become independent. I was 15-years-old when my father passed away and with him went all this philosophy of life.

Two years ago I thought that it would be a good idea to find out what happened to this particular master-disciple relationship.

And I went eastwards, to Turkey, where my father was born, looking for places where such tradition is still alive.

The multitude of pastry shops where people eat sweets all day long, reminded me of my childhood sweets like jelly, marmalade, sherbets, candied fruit, almond paste, milk creams, halvas and baklavas.

In these pastry shops, I went behind the scenes, where I found both masters and apprentices. The workshops were pleasant rooms, where a constant temperature was maintained, with tiled walls. And the light was blurred by particles of flour floating in the air.

There were teenage male apprentices, no females, working under the strict supervision of a master baker. They were learning the traditional craft of baklava making in a hierarchical protocol thoroughly followed for the passing down of age-old expertise from master to apprentice.

This reminded me of my relation with my father.

The pure magic of the workshops ignited my imagination and was led back to my childhood memories of being taught by my father.

I stayed in one of these workshops for quite a long time - long enough to make friends, to understand and feel their particular world.

It was a baklava workshop in Gaziantep, south-eastern Turkey, where I found the characters of my film, especially, Mustafa, a sixteen-year-old apprentice, who became the central character of my film.

He was more rebellious than the others and was obsessed with his dream to become the greatest baklava master of Turkey.

His uncle, Basri, one of the owners of this workshop, was raising and tutoring him and their relationship was delightful to observe.

A proper master-disciple relationship where the former would be nothing without the latter and the latter would not exist without the former.

I filmed in Gaziantep - at the workshop, at their home, in the town for a month. I filmed Mustafa with his uncle but also with his friends and what stood out, something that I had almost forgotten, is that freedom for a teenager is the most precious thing in life.

Mustafa wanted to spread his wings and fly away; and he wanted his dream to become a reality. 

Istanbul - a big city full of opportunities is where Mustafa hoped to achieve his goal. So will he realise his dreams or will they shatter before his own eyes?

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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