Drama - Thriller


Elephants and Grass is made up of six seemingly independent stories that are woven into one. In this film, we find six characters brought together by a series of coincidences. One of these characters  is Havva, a track and field athlete in her twenties. Havva is getting ready to run in the Eurasia Marathon from Asian side of Istanbul to European side. Not only does she want to advance her athletic career, but she is also attracted by the race’s sizeable cash prize. She is trying to find money to cure her brother who was injured during his military service in the southeastern part of Turkey, a region which has been afflicted by clashes since mid eighties.  In the end, the only help she finds is from a five star hotel in Istanbul. The hotel’s modest offer is only food, and to compensate them she agrees to wear their logo, as well as that of the hotel’s casino, at her races.

Meanwhile, a drug-smuggling businessman mafioso named Sabit offers to take over the hotel and casino from its owner Mr Ali, and his son Devrim. Ali declines Sabit’s offer, so Sabit hires a group of hitmen to kill him, and then tries to cover up his crime. Devrim senses that it was Sabit who killed his father and that the former is still after the hotel and casino, which Devrim had inherited after his father’s death. Naturaly he feels that he has to protect his property, and this means serious danger given Sabit’s powerful role in the community. Eventually Devrim realizes that he cannot defat Sabit alone and that he will need help. After increasingly serious threats, Devrim agrees to work with an political underground organisation.

While Devrim is trying to protect the hotel and the casino, Sabit is busy dealing with another important matter. Sabit pays off a state secretary periodically and he checks regularly to see that the secretary has received the money. Sabit also pays off a hitman called Camoka, who works for the state secretary. Meanwhile, the government is after Camoka for crimes he committed. He acts as mediator between Sabit and the state secretary and they protect him for delivering the cash. He also does ‘extra jobs’ for money. Instead of delivering the money to the secretary as he was supposed to, he uses it to import huge amounts of cocaine from Colombia. The secretary complains to Sabit when he does not receive the money.

Despite Sabit’s assurances that he sent the money, the unsatisfied secretary tells Sabit that he must confront Camoka to resolve the misunderstanding. Sabit agrees to do so. At the same time, he feels suspicious that a savage like Camoka says that he did not keep the money. He also feels like he might even be killed before confronting him so he decides to go and see the head of intelligence agency for protection, who is incidentally the state secretary’s biggest rival. Sabit explains the situation and guarantees to reveal very confidential information if he is protected against Camoka and the state secretary. Egemen Terzi, who is the head of the agency, promises him full protection for his cooperation. Sabit gives the agents all the information they need, but after a while they give up on the protection programme, and Sabit is murdered by Camoka.

After Sabit’s death the intelligence agency gets hold of Camoka and his men. Camoka’s men get killed. Egemen Terzi, the head of the agency, suggests Camoka work with him before he is executed. He promises that he will spare his life and protect him with a new identity as long as he cooperates. Egemen and his crew kill somebody who is identical to Camoka, and set up a fake funeral pretending that it was actually Camoka. All this mess ends up in the media and makes the state secretary look bad, especially the footage of Sabit’s confesssions on videotape. The agents claim that Sabit was murdered by the state secretary to keep him from talking too much.

Devrim, who should have been relaxed after what happened to Sabit, finds himself in another problem. The underground organization, which has been hired by Devrim to protect the hotel and the casino, placed a bomb in a restroom in a cafe without his knowledge.  The bomb explodes before it should have, and the police are led to the suspects of this illegal, terrorist activity. Devrim is afraid that he will be linked to the crime when he hears that the police are investigating the case. He had been aware of the risk of being associated with this illegal organization but he still let them stay at his hotel. He tries to find a place to hide and goes to Havva’s house, who was at the hotel at that time. Unfortunately Havva and Devrim are arrested when the police bust the hotel. Havva’s brother passes away while she is still in jail. Right before the Eurasia Race, Havva is released due to extenuating circumstances, and on the same day television stations broadcast the footage of the secretary’s dead body at the place where Camoka was hiding.

Havva visits her brother’s grave on the race day. That same day the chief of police starts calling random numbers. He tells the people he calls like a lunatic that very bad and strange things are happening all around the country. Although this chief knows little information, he knows just enough to get him killed.

Director’s Note:
Director’s Note:…..



Written and Directed By:

Derviş Zaim


Bülent Kayabaş • Ali Sürmeli • Sanem Çelik • Uğur Polat • Haluk Bilginer • Taner Barlas • Taner Birsel • Arif Akkaya • Erdinç Olgaçlı • Nadi Güler • Rıza Sönmez • Emin Gürsoy • Berke Üzrek • Mustafa Uzunyılmaz • Berkun Oya • Mesut Akusta • Ümit Çırak • Burak Öztürk • Celal Perk • Ezel Akay


Ali Akdeniz

Executive Producer:

Bahadır Atay

Art Direction:

Mustafa Ziya Ülkenciler

Director of Photography:

Ertunç Şenkay


Mustafa Preşeva


Serdar Ateşer

Production Coordinator:

Fatmanur Sevinç




Trailers and Clips


If you wish, you can watch it by purchasing or renting on itunes.


Tunca Arslan, Radıkal, (Turkısh Daıly Newspaper), 06.01.2001

Derviş Zaim, with a ‘cloudy in parts’ athmosphere which we know very well from his first film ‘Somersault In A Coffin’, looks at the counterguerilla-gangs-mafia-politics-secret services relations that have been sang out loud to the skies in the recent past of Turkey, hints meaningfully on some reflections of the ‘low intensity’ war that has been going on for years in the Southeastern region. Even though we watch the story of the girl athlete getting prepared for the Eurasia Marathon at the very forefront, trying to find money to have her brother who has been crippled during his military service operated; ‘Elephants and Grass’ in fact, takes a ‘family photograph’, if one may say so, of the ‘lance that doesn’t fit in the sack’, that is,  the Turkey connection of Gladio. Different adventures developing within great filth and rot finally, come together in this photograph. Thanks to the striking script, masterful direction and editing, and perfect performances of the actors, the art of cinema once more catches the agenda of our country and carries it to international platforms through an international language.

Atilla Dorsay, Cinemaya, 51 – 2001 , p. 29

Zaim has built his film in a masterly way. All the protagonists, although briefly seen,  come to life thanks to sharp script and a bunch of marvellous actors. And a young girl, Eve, a national athlete living with her brother wounded in the southeast fighting against the PKK (the illegal Kurdish gang), who crosses all the dubious events and dirty relations without really getting involved. She is the silent witness to everything around her and the work she makes on water, the ‘ebru’ art, is like the symbol of the purity and beauty which has to and which will certainly survive all the corruption, all the murders and crimes she come s very close to.

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