Seventeen years ago, Hasan left his village in Macedonia fleeing with his family to Turkey.

After relinquishing his Macedonian passport in exchange for Turkish citizenship, the 54-year-old never looked back.

Until now.

For years he lived in self-imposed exile even though his family invited him to return to his land and distant loved ones.

Finally he relents and decides it is time to go back to his birthplace. He accepts his niece's invitation to return for a two week visit.

We follow Hasan as he discovers long forgotten memories of a place where time has stood eerily still, and peace, once threatened, remained intact.

After 17 years in Turkey, Hasan reunites with his family in Macedonia [Al Jazeera]


By Hakki Kurtulus

When Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica appeared at the beginning of the 1980's with spectacular and dazzling films, it was a complete shock for not only the art house circle but a film universe itself. The young man from Sarajevo was not only completely new in form but also in the content of his unknown stories of Balkans in the so-called West.

The Balkans, one of the most fragmented parts of our globe, is a delightful source of amazing and untold stories. The Life I Left Behind tries to open up one of the least told ones; the curse of the Balkan Muslims under the reactionary coup in the post-Ottoman era.

Macedonia, at the heart of Balkans, represents a particularly diverse piece of land: from muslimised Slavs, the so-called Torbesh, to the Romani community, this tiny piece of country holds enormous diversity.

The more than five centuries of Ottoman rule brought not only Islamisation to some of the native people of the country, but also some Muslim settlers from the Anatolian heartland.

This "yoruk" community living in the remote mountain villages throughout the southeastern border zone of the country exists in a melting pot.

Every year, due to poverty and various social disadvantages, they have to leave their homes, which had welcomed them for the last six centuries, and migrate "back" to Turkey.

This time, they settle in the wealthy, industrial part of the country, at the heart of the European peninsula of Thrace, also known as Corlu, to recreate a fake yet beloved new homeland.

This film narrates the tale of a strange and quite sorrowful story of a postmodern return journey.

Source: Al Jazeera