Mother Derdo and the Walnut Tree

Year of participation 2017
Program Documentary Competition

Mother Derdo and the Walnut Tree
Producer(s) Nagehan Uskan, Gayane Vardanyan, Serdar Önal
Director(s) Serdar Önal
Script Serdar Önal
Director of Photography Hande Zerkin
Music by Circus Marcus
Sound Yalin Özgencil
Edit Alper Şen


Derdo Ana is a 70 year old Armenian woman who lives in Istanbul and Bitlis with her children and grandchildren. She was born in a village in the province of Bitlis, in the East of Turkey (an important Armenian city during the Ottoman Empire). Derdo's siblings and even her father converted to Islam to after 1915, but Derdo resisted to remain as Christian. When Mother Derdo was staying with her husband and 8 children in Bitlis, living on agriculture and stock breeding, her family was continuously harassed and threatened by the village headmen. One day, her husband was murdered in the village while she was away working in the fields with her children. Nonetheless, Derdo Ana and her children kept to be threatened even after her husband's death, and was thus forced to run away with her children: they all came to Istanbul in 1976, spending their first years living in very difficult conditions. Mother  Derdo sued the village headmen in order to get back their stolen fields: after 9 years she won her case and she returned to her home in the village. Today, even after all these sufferings and incidents, Derdo can't give up going to her village: every summer, she goes there just for two months, picks up the walnuts from the little piece of land that is left to her, and then comes back to Istanbul.

Golden Tulip, Istanbul IFF, 2017

 Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation
Festival Coverage