Review: ‘Callshop Istanbul’

Hot Docs 2016

2 mins read

Callshop Istanbul
(Canada, 96 min.)
Dir. Hind Benchekroun, Sami Mermer
Programme: Canadian Spectrum (Toronto Premiere)


Callshop Istanbul is among several films playing in the Canadian Spectrum at Hot Docs that put Canuck experiences within a global perspective. This doc observes the global city of Istanbul as migrants from around the world use the Turkish metropolis as a stopover along their journeys. The film recounts a tale with which many of Canada’s landed immigrants are probably familiar: that of the waiting zone between an old home and a new one.

Directors Hind Benchekroun and Sami Mermer favour an observational style comprised of mostly static shots. The doc watches various refugees in and around an Istanbul telephone café call family members back home; it also takes a few breaks to speak directly with select callers. The film lets audiences be voyeuristic sociologists as they creep into intimate conversations and listen to refugees attempting to bridge the gap between their present state and home.

While the film’s lethargic style leaves something to be desired, especially given its generous running time, Callshop Istanbul is thematically satisfying as it connects us to global journeys. The film shows a variety of stories: displaced students, aspiring artists, and deadbeat drifters who come from diverse backgrounds, but share dreams of a better life elsewhere while struggling to find the means to relocate in the land they desire. They therefore remain on hold in the in-between place of Istanbul, a city where they can stay, but can’t call home.

Callshop Istanbul screens:

-Sunday, May 1 at Cineplex Scotiabank at 9:30 PM
-Wednesday, May 4 at Cineplex Scotiabank at 4:00 PM
-Sunday, May 6 at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 10:30 AM


Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8. Visit for more information.



Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

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