Mustafa’s Sweet Dreams is about Mustafa, making baklava in a small village town in Turkey, and wanting to go to Istanbul to become a baklava master. Now, this a documentary- or supposed to be anyway. Now, I really enjoyed the film from just an audience’s standpoint because all the characters where very relatable and it had a substantial beginning, middle, and ending. But that is where the problems come in.
The story almost seemed too perfect. When Mustafa finally made his way to Istanbul, he had no money and tried to trade baklava to the receptionist at a hotel so that he could get a room. Surprisingly it worked. Also, Mustafa met a girl street vendor in Istanbul and they started working together…and falling in love. Again, it seemed to perfect.
Now this story alone was amazing. But then we had the opportunity to ask the creator, Angelos Abazoglou, of this movie questions. A couple people were wondering how scripted this movie really was. In fact, the director told us that he had some of the actors reenact what they had previously said (just not in the moment). Also, there was a question if the receptionist was, indeed, as great and charismatic, as the film portrayed him to be. In fact, that wasn’t even the real receptionist. The real receptionist had been essentially ‘cut from the movie because he was too nervous on film. Abazoglou had gotten the ‘on-screen’ receptionist from a tenant in the building who had been living there for twenty years. And then there is the question of the girl. Was that real? Abazoglou had actually talked to the girl before hand so she knew what was going to happen and essentially ‘broke the ice’ for Mustafa because “he was never going to talk to her by himself.”
This just begs the question should this even be called a documentary? SO many things were staged and scripted that it should probably be categorized more under docu-fiction. I mean, this film is in competition with other documentaries at the Sarajevo film festival but is it even fair to be competing with films (I assume) that only had ONE chance to get the shot and ONE chance to capture the emotion? None of these multiple takes. None of this screening for actors.
So yes, it was a wonderful movie but should it be in the same category as all the other documentary films? I think not.