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Not as Nations opens, on a beautiful morning in Turkey, when Murat (the Kurdish protagonist) is told of yet another bombing. He gives token condolences and goes about his day, indifferent to the pain and heartache happening all around him. Murat works in his family’s cafe and lives his life as it comes, having served his mandatory military time and now facing the prospect of settling down with a girl he’s not interested in. During an emotional chat with Murat, his young sister (Lale) tells him to get over himself and gives him a poem for his birthday. Following their talk, Lale is killed, an innocent bystander in yet another attack. Murat and his family are stricken with grief, his mother implores him to find out who is responsible for Lale’s death, and Murat struggles to keep his sanity despite his inner turmoil. Unprepared to mourn for his sister, Murat decides to leave his home and travel to visit friends in another town. But when a wise old man gives him a lesson on history and greed, he faces a new possibility to find the answer to his sister’s death: the training camp of the PKK (the terrorist group whose objective is to fight to the death for a free Kurdistan). Murat stands in the bus station and considers his options for escape. At the last minute, he decides to travel to Semdinli – the hometown of a military friend – determined to avenge Lale’s death. Once there, Murat meets Ergin and Sivan. Ergin, upon discovering that Murat’s friend is unwilling to help, offers to join him so that he can find the woman he loves. Sivan becomes Murat’s unlikely love interest and must let him leave just when their relationship is at its peak. Murat and Ergin begin their quest to find answers by entering Syria illegally. Through places where safety is never certain, Murat and Ergin must use their wit and street smarts just to survive, much less find the answers they seek. Once in the PKK training camp and despite his every honorable intention, Murat is forced into a position that he loathes as he agrees to work on a number of bombs for the PKK. Convinced that Murat and Ergin are spies, though, the PKK bring them to war-ravaged Beirut to be left for dead. Murat and Ergin must dodge bullets, bombs and new adversaries in their quest. At a moment when death is imminent, Lale’s poem – Murat’s most prized possession – is ripped to shreds before his eyes and all hope is destroyed. During a stay in a kind woman’s home, Murat admits that he has failed to find the answers he was searching for. She convinces him that his journey isn’t over and suggests they seek refuge through the French embassy. Murat and Ergin arrive at the embassy – their final hope for escape – and Murat reveals to Ergin that the PKK killed Ergin’s love. The embassy guards turn them away when they see Murat defeating the last of his enemies and determine that he can protect himself. In the final scene, Murat and Ergin sit in a police station in Istanbul facing prison or exile. After the two friends accept different paths, Ergin asks Murat to recite Lale’s poem for him and the fates of their friends and family are played out as Murat does. The story closes with Ergin asking Murat if they found their answer and a vision of Murat holding Lale’s poem, pasted back together, with blood on his hand. His reply comes as the screen fades to black: 'Maybe. Yet still we grieve.'
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