A crowded fish school is passing through Bosphorus annually where 15 million people leave and wait for the return of the bluefish to fill their nets, fishing lines, their stomach and to join their dinner table. But the bluefish, a much-loved and iconic symbol of Istanbul, faces the threat of extinction.

The bluefish is an Istanbul icon. Stories abound about what this lithe silvery fish, the fastest and most ferocious swimmer of the Bosphorus, can do. Called a small monster, or piranha, there are rumours of it attacking clusters of bonito, and even dolphins. The fish is truly a Bosphorus legend. The Bosphorus has already lost some of its famous inhabitants – the giant blue-fin tuna and its predator, the white shark, no longer swim through. Lobsters that were once plentiful in the Marmara, swordfish and Mediterranean seals are also long gone. Most recently, the Bosphorus mackerel disappeared. Is the bluefish next in line? Combining underwater footage with interviews with fishermen, activists and more, the film tells the fish’s story with great sensitivity.

Director’s Statement

The documentary is about a fish that had huge cultural influence over a region for thousand years and empires long, which was overfished over the last decades. Blue fish aggressive and fast attacks almost any fish undersized, hard to catch. There are stories of careless fisherman that lost fingers or get a good scratch while trying to release it from the fishing hook. There are even some fisherman stories in which, bluefish schools chasing hungry dolphins. The fish highly desired in the region; nearly 70% of World harvest is from Turkey & Marmara Sea. The documentary is following the annual migration of the Blue fish along Bosporus both under and above water together with the human stories & lives (fisherman, scientist, restaurants, NGO’s, writers, poets, bloggers, reporters) bonded to it. The cultural and economical importance of the fish for the people is worthless and there is no coming back from extinction for this incredible species, which sadly means a loss of seamanship/cuisine culture!

Synopsis

LUFER (Bluefish) is a glitter in people’s eyes, big time money for the small & big fisherman. Lufer fishing is an addiction daily routine for the retired, unemployed and off time employer/hobbyists across Bosphorus. If you have a chance to travel around Istanbul coastline a day in October, you can count around ten thousand fishing roads, day & night. It means gathering reason for families & friends, for table conversations all around the canal. Lufer means these facts and many more for thousands of years for the people residing around Bosporus waters. But with the advancement of the heavy industry and human population increase since 1950’s the numbers of fish migrating is diminishing year by year. Some individuals & NGO’s are trying to pictures this fact with public awareness campaigns, advertisements but no one has ever truly documented the Bluefish migration underwater, the fish caught in the nets, fishing lines, underwater footage from Marmara Sea and most importantly; people of Istanbul through the eyes LUFER and Bluefish through the eyes of its inhabitants.

Watch it at !f 2017’s Home section.


Director & Dop: Mert Gokalp
Producer: Mert Gokalp/Onur Uysal
Co-producer: Ali Betil
Editing: Mehmet Abanoz
Film Score: Berke Can Ozcan/Burak Irmak