Yusuf was sent to prison for political activism in the fight for democracy when he was a student in Instanbul in the 1990s. Ten years later he is released on the grounds of ill health. He goes straight to his village, in the remote heights above the Black Sea, where the only person he finds is his sick mother. His father died during his imprisonment, and his eldest sister married and moved away. Apart from his childhood friend Mikhail, Yusuf is the only young man in the village; economic problems having driven all the others into towns and cities. One evening the two friends go to the nearest town and meet in a bar a Georgian prostitute, Eka, with whom Yusuf falls in love. The young man clings on to this woman in desperation, seeing her as his only chance to overcome his loneliness and give him strength to continue. But for Eka, Yusuf is more like someone out of a novel, living in another world and another era, like those characters in the Russian novels she enjoys reading.
Ozcan Alperĺs first feature is a stringent depiction of a section of Turkish society. For in the 1990s, the partisans of democracy and particularly the student class, found nothing they could relate to in national politics. Intercut with dream sequences in which Yusuf recalls the violence of his incarceration and the demonstrations in which he took part, Sonbahar takes a critical look at Turkeyĺs recent history.