Watch the Trailer:   High Bandwidth   Medium Bandwidth   Dial-up

Synopsis   Filmmaker's Statement   Review

Written, Produced, Directed, & Edited by
Yunus Firat

Produced by
Matthew Quezada

Baruk Sarimola
Ezgi Asroglu
Ozlem Cinar
Aydin Sigali
Orhan Simsek


Hasan, a young farmer from a small village in western Turkey, asks permission to marry his lover, Ayse. Her father, the landlord of the village, decides to test Hasan's courage and manhood by sending him to the mountains in search of the "yellow beauty." He must complete his task before the sun sets and carry a bag of salt on his shoulders as a symbol of his burden. Although Hasan doesn't believe in such traditions, he feels that his is obligated to prove his lover for Ayse. Leaving behind his family and friends, Hasan begins his trek up the rocky mountains of provincial Turkey.

On his journey, Hasan encounters eccentric characters that challenge him to succeed: An elderly married couple who incessantly argue about the correct path to the top of the mountain; a man who has given up on his past, warning Hasan about the dangers of abandoning his dreams; a temptress from the village who desires to steal Hasan's affections away from his true love and the most deadly character in his path; an assassin hired to kill Hasan. In order to complete his journey, Hasan must risk his life and find the 'yellow beauty' before the the sun sets. Despite all of these obstacles, Hasan learns that in order to be happy, he must reject the blind traditions of the village, and take steps of his own towards a future with his true love.


Director's Statement

It has always been my dream to tell stories from my native country, Turkey, that most of the world has never heard before. While attending film school at Chapman University, I believed that my mission should begin now by showing a small part of my culture to an international audience. I chose a tragic folk tale which took place one hundred years ago in western Turkey. I thought a young man’s journey to prove his love and manhood in a fascinating culture would provide me with an exciting and compelling filmmaking experience. ‘What’s Love Doing in the Mountains?’ is a love story filled with honest and sincere observations about traditions and their effects on a village culture. The story possesses a universal theme, one I have wanted to write about since deciding to become a filmmaker, ‘No matter what others say, always follow your heart.’ The most amazing part of this experience was working with a young and dedicated American crew, comprised of film school colleagues who have shared in many of my filmmaking experiences. Capturing Hasan’s journey into the mountains became our journey; they traveled to Turkey with me during spring break and it is their adventurous and passionate spirits that deserve the biggest credit for this film’s existence.  Shooting on location provided us with great visuals and giving the film a sense of accuracy beyond what we could have imagined.  The kind and helpful attitudes of Turkey’s native villagers’, in addition to the cast and crew’s dedication, elevated the film’s production quality to a level not seen in many student films. My thesis advisor, Professor David Garcia always says: ‘Filmmaking is not brain surgery. Brain surgery is easy.’ Adapting my vision to the screen was the toughest task I’ve had to face.  I learned that collaborating with people who love making films and telling a personal story can easily produce a film that citizens from any village would enjoy.


Review by the BMPA Founders

An underachieving man; an unattainable woman; a disapproving father; a mysterious visitor. Love; betrayal; risk; deception; gain; loss. Do these sound familiar? Of course they do. They’re classic elements that have shown up in thousands of stories from cultures across the globe. What, then, does another story based on these elements have to offer us? Another chance for connection. Classic stories are classic for a reason: they resonate truth, and they teach us lessons about ourselves and the world around us. These stories, however, resonate not just because of the concepts upon which they’re based, but because of their authors’ attention to detail.

The short film What’s Love Doing in the Mountains? is based on a traditional Turkish story, which student filmmaker Yunus Emre Firat brings to life with the skill of a seasoned writer/director. The well-crafted cinematography and art design highlight the beauty of a small Turkish village—its inhabitants, architecture, and landscape—almost tricking us into believing that the story of Hasan (Baruk Sarimola) and Ayse (Ezgi Asroglu) could only take place there. What makes the story a classic, though, is the fact that it could take place anywhere. Anywhere on earth, an underachieving man could have a chance to prove his worth to someone he loves; anywhere on earth, a woman could be forced to choose between tradition and passion.

The characters in this film are familiar to us; they’re people we see in ourselves, our friends, and our families. In order for the film to work, though, the characters must also be unique. While Hasan is an archetypal character, he must also be a real man with real hopes and fears of his own. One of Mr. Firat’s greatest achievements in the making of this picture comes in adeptly folding both of these necessary facets into each of his characters, from Hasan to the squabbling couple at the fork in the road.

Needless to say, Mr. Firat has made a successful film, and because of both the classic subject matter and the filmmaker’s craftsmanship, What’s Love Doing in the Mountains? will no doubt stand the test of time.


Photography by Maureen