Friday, May 27, 2005


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Tuesday, May 24, 2005


The 8th Flying Broom International Women's Film Festival was held from May 5-15. The theme of this year's festival was ''Love''. A total of 93 films from 21 countries were shown during the festival. The well-known Turkish actress, Sevda Ferdağ, was presented the ''Flying Broom Honorary Award'' at the festival.

The Festival began in Ankara with a ceremony at the State Opera and Ballet Center.

Halime Güner, General Coordinator of Flying Broom, stated that the festival included conferences on issues pertaining to women.

Russia was the guest of the ''One Country'' category in the festival. ''Babusya'' by Lidiya Bobrova, ''Harvest Time'' by Marina Razbezhkina and ''Shizo'' by Marina Razbezhkina were shown. The films of the world-famous female director Agnieszka Holland such as ''Europa Europa'', ''Olivier, Olivier'', ''Total Eclipse'' and ''Julie Walking Home'' were also screened. Indian director Deepa Mehta was also the guest at this year's festival with her films. The viewers had the opportunity to view the films starring Greta Garbo, who has been qualified as being one of the outstanding female actresses in the history of the cinema ''Anna Karenina'', ''Grand Hotel'' and ''Ninotchka'' starring Grate Garbo were shown at the Festival. Semiha Berksoy, the first lady of Turkish opera as well as one of the most colorful figures in contemporary Turkish art, who died last year of a pulmonary embolism, at the age of 94, was commemorated in the festival with her film ''The Serpent's Tale''. For the first time in the festival, there was a special category for male directors: ''Men in Love''.

The program included some 90 films from all over the world. Some of the categories were:

- Each has a different color - Greta Garbo
- Our cinema - Agnieszka Holland
- One country: Russia - Men in Love
- Short films - Documentaries
- Beyond pink and blue - Animations

There was a panel discussion during the festival on women in the movie industry.

On the opening and closing nights of the festival, Flying Broom distributed the Bilge Olgaç Achievement Awards and the Flying Broom Honorary Award.

FIPRESCI: Flying Broom is the only women's film festival where there is an official jury from the International Federation of Film Critics. This year, for the third time, the prestigious FIPRESCI Prize went to one of the fourteen new features in the category 'Each has a Different Color'.

Who was the angel, and what happened to her?

The annual screenplay contest aims to encourage people to express their thoughts and experiences in the language of film. And apparently it’s getting popular: This year, the Flying Broom received close to 300 screenplays from hopeful competitors around the world. Ten writers have been invited to join a workshop headed by famous Turkish scriptwriter and director Işıl Özgentürk. All scenarios written at the workshop will eventually be compiled into a book by Flying Broom, and the winning manuscript will be filmed by Filma-Cass and shown at next year’s Festival.

The competition has no limitations regarding subject or genre. Contributors have been given an interesting clue to work with: ‘Your mother was an angel, my baby’. This is a phrase often heard in the mainstream of Turkish films during the 60s and 70s, and Flying Broom suggested that contributors to think about motherhood and the stories related to: “Who was the angel, and what happened to her?”

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Kilometre Zero (2005)

Kilometre Zero


Actress Belcim Bilgin and actor Nazmi Kirik pose during a photocall for Iraqi-born director Hiner Saleem's film 'Kilometre Zero' at the 58th Cannes Film Festival, May 12, 2005. Photo by Vincent Kessler/Reuters

By Duane Byrge

Bottom line: A blunt but often powerful glimpse into the horrors of Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the ethnic strife between Arabs and Kurds.

It's a road picture with a MacGuffin. Yet in this powerful, contemporary case, it's no standard generic product: The road is the dusty backways of Iraq, and the MacGuffin is a dead Iraqi soldier whom our battling, nonbuddy heroes must transport to his family. Although generically structured, "Kilometre Zero" offers a searing look into the horrors the people of Iraq, specifically the Kurds, suffered under the brutish tyranny of Saddam Hussein.

Its most hospitable U.S. venue might be 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., since this Competition entrant personalizes the freedom one Kurdish family attains as a result of the U.S. liberation of Iraq and the downfall of Hussein. Unfortunately, "Kilometre's" powerful message is delivered with often blunt aesthetics, and commercial prospects are negligible unless the Republican Party gets into the film distribution racket.

Set in 1988 amid the Iraq-Iran war, we follow a young Kurdish husband and father, Ako (Nazmi Kirik), as he is conscripted into the Iraqi Army and thrust into the front lines. Army life is brutal and hellish, and the real enemies, it seems, are his sadistic superior officers. With awful equipment, no training and boneheaded strategy, the "grand army" bungles along on its belly, generally entrenched under enemy bombardment. However, the god of the military bureaucracy shines on Ako when he is assigned to accompany a fellow soldier's corpse to his family and temporarily leave the mayhem. With a flag-wrapped coffin atop an orange GMC vehicle, Ako and an Iraqi cab driver (Robert Alazraki) set out on their mission.

Ako and the driver exchange hostile words: The hatred between the Arab and the Kurd is emblematic of the ethnic strife in that tyrannized land. Unfortunately, writer-director Hiner Saleem's filmmaking skills are not always sufficient for his theme and story. The dialogue is often expositional and the visuals somewhat crude. The epiphany these men finally reach is muddled by Saleem's uneven storytelling. Eventually, it jumps forward to the present and a maudlin last shot of Ako and his family gazing at the Eiffel Tower, representing freedom -- a bit cheeky, one might add, given France's opposition to the conflict in Iraq.

In certain instances, the film resembles a rough cut, but there is a diamond of a story beneath its modest budget constraints. A cortege of coffin-bearing cabs as they wind across the horizon is a searing correlative for the sad horrors of life in Iraq. A sobering, running gag is a towering statue of Saddam Hussein on a flatbed truck that seems to shadow our travelers' transport. There is also some contrapuntal comedic hilarity as the bombastic military music of the Iraqi Army blasts from the cab radio.

Under Saleem's hand, the technical contributions are frequently eloquent, specifically composer Nikos Kipourgos' baleful score, amplified with the wails of a sad people's plea.

Memento Films Distribution
Memento Films Production/La Cinefacture, Hiner Saleem Prods.
Screenwriter-director: Hiner Saleem
Director of photography: Robert Alazraki
Production designer: Kamal Hamarash
Music: Nikos Kipourgos
Editor: Anna Ruiz
Sound: Freddy Loth
Ako: Nazmi Kirik
Salma: Belcim Bigin
Taxi driver: Robert Alazraki
No MPAA rating
Running time -- 91 minutes

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Yatik Emine / Emine (1974)

Yatik Emine / Emine / Emine la brûlée
1974 90 color 90 min.
Directed by:Ömer Kavur ; Written by:Ömer Kavur, Turgut Ozakman based on a novel by Refik Halit karay; Cinematography
by:Renato Fait; Edited by:Ömer Kavur,Renato Fait; Music by: Arif Erkin; Sound by: Feridun Kinay; Produced by: Duran Tantekin. Cast: Necla Nazir, Serdar Gokhan, Mahmut Hekimoglu, Bilal Inci, Atilla Ergun, Osman Alyanak, Guzin Ozipek,
Renan Fosforoglu.

Synopsis: "Yatik Emine" tells the story of a prostitute in exile during the First World War. In 1990 a prostitute called Yatik Emine is sent on exile to a small Anatolian town. Not knowing how to deal with the problem, the young lieutenant in
charge has her placed temporarily in prison. However her arrival causses great dissatisfaction amongst the native people.

As a result the town's cauncil takes this complaint to the governor. But in prison Emine is badly beaten by a prisoner sentenced for having killed her husband. The governor finds a solution for Emine by lodging her with her janitor.Emine is happy in the janitor'shouse and she gets along well with his wife. Native women who want to see Emine satisfy their curiousty by coming to visit the janitor's wife. Whenone day the janitor takes advantage of his wife's absence and tries to rape Emine they are discovered on the act and Emine is savagely beaten. Emine is carried to the hospital.

Here she meets a political exile working as an attendant, his name is Server. Server showsher sympathy and they soon become close friends. However when this friendship is a subject to discussion by the doctoramongst the officials, the lieutenant jealous has her moved to an isolated house in the outskirts of the town. Emine in search for work is rejected at each attempt, finally she decides to take a petition to the officials for a job. She meets a mad petition writer who helps her gratuitously. The lieutenant having read the petition grants her a daily loaf of bread. Server also doesn't loose track of her andcontinues to offer this help. He furnishes her home, takes her food and after a while they begin living together. This provokes new reactions amongst the natives, Riza the town's tough guy making this a question of honor starts a fight with Server. Server beats Riza but is sent fron the town to a stone mine by the authorities.

The lieutenant who is conditioned by his official situation is conscious that he no longer can help Emine and decides to leave for an inspection. Emine is left all alone to her fate. Riza seizes this opportunity to take a friend to Emine to cure him of his impotence...



directed by Fatih AKIN
GERMANYThe German-born Turkish director Fatih Akin, a member of the jury for the Festival's Official Selection of feature films, has also made the journey to the Croisette this year to present his new film, Crossing the Bridge, out of competition. Five years after making Wir haben vergessen zurückzukehren, the filmmaker, who was awarded a Berlin Festival Golden Bear in 2004 for Head-On, revisits the documentary genre to portray the daily life, rich with musical and cultural wealth, of the inhabitants of Istanbul, the great metropolis located at the crossroads between Orient and Occident.

One of the main personalities you'll meet on screen in this narrative is musician and composer Alexander Hacke. A veteran of the German avant-garde music scene, he arrives in Istanbul to write the sound track for the film Head-On. His meeting with the members of the neo-psychedelic band Baba Zula is decisive. With their guidance, he succeeds in assembling a collage of Istanbul's musical diversity, a colorful patchwork of sounds and moods for the whole world to appreciate. One of Fatih Akin's main purposes in this documentary is to make international audiences aware of the originality of Istanbul's forms of musical expression, both modern and ancient.

1.) Confucius says:
When you come to a place and want to understand it, listen to the music that is played there.

2.) I don't believe the East starts in Istanbul and goes to China. And the West starts in Greece and goes to L.A.
Orient Expressions

3.) Music is only one of the toys that can change the world. The street is neutral turf. That's why it brings people together. Whatever class you belong to, it's a common denominator for everyone.

This documentary is about musical, cultural and every-day life in the Turkish metropolis between orient and occident. With his film the author and director Fatih Akin wishes to introduce an international audience to the diversity and uniqueness of the historic and recent espressions of musical creativity in the heart of Istanbul.

Mercan DEDE







Alexander HACKE




Night Journey/Gece Yolculugu (1987)

Gece Yolculugu

Le Voyage de nuit
Night Journey

Kavur Ömer; Turkey; 1987

35 mm; 107'; color; v.o. turkish; s-t. english

Filmmaker Ali is looking for shooting locations for his new film. Tired of curbing his artistic impulses in favour of the actors’ and producers’ wishes, he feels the need to spend some time on his own. He chooses an abandoned village where he can film and write in complete peace and finally confront the ghosts and shadows of his past.

Gece Yolculugu is certainly one of the best examples of Turkish auteur cinema. The film starts like a road movie before settling in the ruins of a church, where the main protagonist withdraws in order to better confront his memory and his consciousness. The filmmaker’s brilliant presentation of the lucid and cruel acknowledgment of the meaning of life always includes the outside world and its tenderly and attentively observed natives. The socio-political data of the time emerge by means of snatches of conversations and radio information. The wealth of collective reality is thus integrated into the profoundly individualistic context of existentialist erring ways.

scénario: Ömer Kavur image: Salih Dikisçi montage: Mevlüt Koçak son: Ercan Okan musique: Atilla Özdemiroglu interprètes: Aytaç Arman, Macit Koper, Sahika Tekand, Aslan Kaçar, Orhan Çagman, Osman Alyanak, Ergun Özcan, Erol Durak, Mehmet Esen, Orhan Basaran, Ömür Çelikbilek

production:Alfa Film Ltd.Ömer Kavur istiklâl Cad. Halep ishanı No.140 Kat:5 80080 Beyoglu – Istanbul –Turquie
tél. +90 212 243 63 40 fax +90 212 245 31 08

Desperate Road/Amansiz Yol (1985)


Turkey 1985 / 90m Director: Ömer Kavur ; Cast: Kadir Inanir, Zuhal Olcay, Yavuzer Çetinkaya

A road movie that attempts to show the struggles of a couple who find themselves unable to escape their unfortunate circumstances and, perhaps more importantly, the ugly side of Turkey. The driver of a long-haul truck drives the whole length of Turkey, between Istanbul and Mardin, trying to find his estranged wife. He left her to try to get rich and lost touch after he had been imprisoned. Now, he is desperate to find her. But when he eventually tracks her down, a nasty surprise awaits and he is drawn into a conflict which destroys his new-found happiness.

A BROKEN LOVE STORY/Kirik Bir Ask Hikayesi (1981)

A BROKEN LOVE STORY (Kirik Bir Ask Hikayesi)
Turkey 1981 / 95m
Director: Ömer Kavur ; Cast: Kadir Inanir, Hümeyra, Halil Ergün, Kamuran Usluer, Neriman Köksal

A classic piece of melodrama told with great simplicity by Omer Kavur. Fuat is forced into a prospective marriage to a rich girl, Belgin, to help his family's financial plight. His friend Bedri ends a meaningless life by committing suicide. Fuat's growing love for Aysel gradually becomes a symbol of rebellion that will free him from a system that imprisons, represses and isolates the individual. But, as Fuat discovers, sometimes escape is impossible.

The Secret Face/Gizli Yuz (1991)

Turkey 1991

A young photographer, who works in night clubs and tavernas, brings all the pictures he takes to a mysterious woman. Every morning, for years, she searches for a face in these sad pictures. Finally, a face draws her attention, that of a watchmaker who has strange dreams and visions. Shortly afterwards, the photographer realizes that she has left town, and so has the watchmaker. He begins to search for her fervently, travelling obsessively through forgotten towns and abandoned countrysides.

Direction: Ömer Kavur. / Screenplay: Orhan Pamuk. / Cinematography: Erdal Kahraman. / Editing: Mevlüt Koçak. / Sets: Husper Akyürek. / Music: Cahit Berkay. / Cast: Zuhal Olcay, Fikret Kuskan, Savas Yurttas, Sevda Ferdag. / Production: Odak Film, Alfa Film. / World Sales: Alfa Film Ltd., Istiklâl cd. 140/5 Beyoglu, Istanbul 80080, Turkey, tel.: 212 243 6340, fax: 212 245 3108. 35mm / Colour 118'

Encounter/Karsilasma (2003)

ENCOUNTER (Karsilasma)

Directed by Omer Kavur; Screenplay by Omer Kavur and Macit Koper; Cast: Uğur Polat, Lale Mansur, Çetin Tekindor,
İsmail Hacıoğlu. 2003, 124 minutes

Synopsis: Sinan and Mahmut meet at the therapy sessions of a fatal disease. Sinan, an architect, holds himself responsible for the death of his son in a motorcycle accident.

As for Mahmut, he runs a gambling house and is in shady business, he suffers from a crime committed in his youth and now is inclined to end of his life. However, news about a person he is in search for causes him to leave Istanbul. Sinan senses that the one Mahmut seeks is a young woman whose photograph he has seen.

A short while later news of Mahmut arrives, he has been victim of an unresolved murder.

Sinan goes to the island where his friend was killed to try to find out the truth about the murder. Here, he first meets a young man in whom he finds the image of his lost son and then the woman on the photograph.

For Sinan, walking the thin line between life and death, a new life is offered on the island. This is almost a miracle.

Festivals and Awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Young Actor (Ismail Hacioglu), People's Jury Award, the 40th Gold Orange Film Festival, Antalya, 2003; Screened in the Chicago Film Festival.
Festróia - Tróia International Film Festival - nominated Golden Dolphin 2004; Istanbul International Film Festival - Nominated best turkish film 2003; Montréal World Film Festival - nominated Grand prix des Amériques 2003.

Profile | Ömer Kavur 1944-2005

"it's not only cinema but every aspect of our life that has been invaded by the American image."
Ömer Kavur | Thessaloniki IFF 1997

"Le cinéma dans les années 2000... Malgré l'immense progrès technologique dans le domaine de l'audiovisuel, je crains que l'avenir du cinéma ne promette pas de grandes choses. Hier, le cinéma était réalisé par des hommes et racontait l'histoire des hommes pour un public plus ou moins sensible. Aujourd'hui, le cinéma est fait par des technocrates qui réalisent des vidéo-clips pour un public infantil. Demain... ?"
Ömer Kavur | Istanbul, novembre 1998

Turkish filmmaker Ömer Kavur was born in Ankara, in 1944. After studying journalism and sociology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, he went on to study film at the Conservatoire Indépendant du Cinéma Français. He returned to Turkey in 1971 and began making documentaries and commercials. In 1974, he made his first feature film, Yatik Emine. At fifty-two, having worked in film for twenty-four years, with his own production company (to avoid trouble with the censors) and with eleven feature films to his credit, Ömer Kavur is one of the principal figures of contemporary Turkish cinema. Though he is an atypical director, the kind that is difficult to classify, some may claim he is the loyal representative of the waves that have shaken Turkish cinema since the 80's; his films are intimate, ideologically committed, socially relevant and hugely popular.


Yatik Emine / Emine la brûlée, (1974)
Yusuf and Kenan /Yusuf ile Kenan / Les gamins d'Istanbul, (1979)
Oh! Beautiful Istanbul / Ah güzel Istanbul / Istanbul la belle, (1981)
Lake / Göl / Le lac, (1982)
A Broken Love Story / Kirik Bir Ask Hikâyesi / Une histoire d'amour amère,
Blindfold / Körebe / Colin-maillard, (1984)
Desperate Road / Amansiz yol / La route désespérée, (1985)
Motherland Hotel / Anayurt Oteli / Hôtel Mère-Patrie, (1986)
Night Journey / Gece yolculugu / Voyage de Nuit, (1987)
Secret Face / Gizli yüz / Le visage secret, (1991)
The Randevous / Bulusma | short film (1995)
Journey of the Clock Hand / Akrebin yolculugu / La tour de l'horloge, (1997)
Melekler Evi / Hause of Angels (2000)
Karsilasma (Encounter, 2003)

Journey on the Clockhand/Akrebin Yolculugu (1997)

Akrebin Yolculugu

Turkey/Hungary/Czech Republic

The most original if not the best Turkish director since Yilmaz Guney, Omer Kavur has a way of linking all his important feature films together via recurring visual motifs and a slow-paced shooting style that allows the viewer plenty of time to meditate on the symbols, metaphors and images as they mesh together into a whole.

In Akrebin Yolculugu (Journey on the Hour Hand), the story of a clock repairman on a strange journey to a distant village to repair a tower clock, Kavur retraces his steps to the abandoned Motherland Hotel with its demented porter and leans heavily on the Sufi mysticism of The Hidden Face with its accented colours and mirrors, simple objects and natural landscapes, faces and movements. He aims to reinforce the feeling of a timeless journey into the self on the part of the protagonist.

Sometimes referred to as the "Turkish Bergman", Kavur this time explores the psychological thriller a la Clouzot and Hitchcock - and although the director is too original to steal from Vertigo, the parallels are visible nonetheless.

Indeed, suspense is built as the scope of the story broadens into a murder mystery that involves a tyrannical husband who loves to hunt and a group of blind singers who "sense" more than what most people "see". If anyone is left in the dark throughout most of this zig-zag tale of forbidden passions, then it's the introverted clock-repairman who falls in love with a mysterious woman who may or may not be a murderess. Ron Holloway

Prod co: Alfa Film (Turkey), in co-production with Objektiv Film Studio (Hungary), Barrandov Biografia (Czech Republic), supported by Eurimages; Prod: Omer Kavur, Janos Rozsa, Anna Vasova; Dir: Omer Kavur; Scr: Macit Koper, Omer Kavur; Ph: Erdal Kahraman; Art dir: Selma Gurbuz. Ed: Mevlut Kocak; Mus: Attila Ozdemiroglu; Cast: Mehmet Aslantug, Sahika Tekand, Tuncel Kurtiz, Nuvit Ozdogru, Macit Koper, Kenan Bal, Rana Cabbar, Tomris Oguzalp, Aytac Arman; Running time: 119 mins; Int sales: Alfa Film Ltd

In Memoriam | Omer Kavur, 61

May 15, 2005

Turkish filmmaker Omer Kavur, 61

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Turkish filmmaker and screenwriter Omer Kavur, whose psychological dramas were featured in Cannes and at other prominent international festivals, has died of cancer. He was 61. Kavur, who had been suffering from lymph node cancer, died at his home in Istanbul Thursday, according to Sadik Deveci, a friend and film producer. The films by the French-educated director probed the depths of human existence and psychology and helped win international praise for Turkish cinematography. His 1987 film "Night Journey" chronicled the story of a filmmaker working in solitude as he dealt with the past, while the 1997 "Journey In The Hour Hand" was the story of a watchmaker who witnesses a murder in which the body goes missing. Both were shown at the Cannes film festival. Other films were shown at festivals in the United States and Canada. (AP)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Ten Best Turkish Film | Yol (1982) Serif Goren

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Directed by Serif Goren
Written by Yilmaz Guney
Cast: Tarik Akan, Serif Sezer, Halil Ergun, Necmettin Cobanoglu, Hikmet Celik, Tuncay Akca
1982, 114 minutes

Festivals and Awards:

Golden Palm, Cannes Film Festival;
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury;
Special Mention - Cannes Film Festival;
Best Foreign Film Award in the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics;
Foreign Language Film of the Year by the London Critics Circle Film Awards

Synopsis: The Road (Yol), depicts the story of what five friends, convicts in the Imrali Prison, live through during their week-long leave, due to a special permission to spend the religious festivities with their families for good conduct. Seyyit Ali, learning of his wife's infidelity, has to blood his hands for traditions' sake... Mehmet Ali, rejected by his beloved wife's family as he is thought to have left his brother-in-law to die during the robbery... Yusuf who is send back to prison because he loses his permission sheet... Mevlut, who dreams of spending his leave with his fiancée but is thwarted by her family as they never leave her alone? Omer, fallen for one of the village's beauties, Gulbahar, not knowing what to do...

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Ten Best Turkish Film | Hope (1970) by Yilmaz Guney

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HOPE (Umut)
Directed and written by Yilmaz Guney
Cast: Yilmaz Guney, Gulsen Alniacik, Tuncel Kurtiz, Osman Alyanak
1970, 100 minutes. Black and white.

Festivals and Awards: Best Film, Best Music, Best Script, Best Actor Awards in the Golden Cocoon (Altin Koza) Film Festival, Adana, Turkey; Special Prize in the Grenoble Film Festival

Synopsis: Hope has been named Turkish Cinema's best ever film in many previous polls. It does, in fact, represent a key turning point in Turkish filmmaking; one that, after The Ugly King (Çirkin Kral) marked the beginning of the Yilmaz Güney phenomenon. It is quite simply a masterpiece… Hope is also the first and most striking example of how deeply Güney was influenced by Italian Neo-Realism. Güney's association with neo-realism is manifested on screen in his stark portrayal of the lives of ordinary men, of the pitiful, oppressed masses; a portrayal devoid of cliché and artifice. But for Güney, neo-realism is more than mere inspiration. In this film, in particular, it becomes clear that he also made his own valuable contribution to the heritage.

Cabbar, a destitute carriage driver from Adana, leads a life of misery, struggling to make ends meet for his wife, ageing mother and five children. He invests all his hope in lottery tickets; only fortune never smiles on him. Cabbar is squeezed by his creditors, pushed around and humiliated. One of his horses dies; the creditors appropriate the other. In the end, his only way forward is to hunt for buried treasure under the directions of a hodja with powerful insight. And the second half of the film is given over to the search for the treasure. Yilmaz Güney depicts horrific poverty and despair in shockingly stark terms; a language hitherto unknown to Turkish cinema. But the starkness of his language does not prevent him reaching the kind of visual brilliance that can only be described as hair-raising. The portraits he sketches are so accomplished, the events he relates so moving, his critique of the emerging order so spot on and the 'cinema' he produces so powerful that it is impossible not to be thrown off-balance. It is equally hard to decide whether to feel disappointment or elation that this is merely a 'film'.

Yilmaz Güney writes, directs and performs in Hope. And he weaves a story of which he has first-hand experience… The realism he vests in the children, who are beaten for spending 25 piasters on hiring a bicycle, in the downtrodden women, in the dog that licks the spilt milk off the child, of the dead horse resonates like scream from the heart..

Hope is one of the unburied treasures of cinema history!

Tunca Arslan

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Ten Best Turkish Film | Distant/Uzak by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

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Directed and written by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Cast: Muzaffer Özdemir, Mehmet Emin Toprak, Zuhal Gencer, Nazan Kirilmis, Feridun Koc, Fatma Ceylan, Ebru Ceylan
2003, 110 minutes

Festivals and Awards: Grand Jury Prize, and Best Actor Award, Cannes Film Festival; Best Film of the Year, FIPRESCI Grand Prix, International Federation of Film Critics; Premio Trieste 2004 for the best film, Trieste Film Festival, Italy; Estonian Critics' Prize, Black Nights Film Festival; Golden Antigone prize and the Critics' Award in the Mediterranean Film Festival, Montpellier; Best Film, Cinemataya Film Festival, India; Best Film, Cinemanila Film Festival, Philippines; Best Director and Best Cinematography, Film Festival of Mexico City; Silver Hugo prize, the 39th Chicago International Film Festival; Best film and Best Director, the 22nd Istanbul Film Festival; Best Film and Best Actor, the 39th Golden Orange Film Festival, Antalya, Turkey;

Also screened and scheduled to be screened in many international film festivals.
It was opened in various cinemas in France in February 2004, and in New York on March 12, 2004.
Screened at the 3rd Boston Turkish Film Festival in 2004.

Synopsis: With a high profile after its selection in competition at Cannes later this month, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's new film promises to become a surefire hit on the festival circuit...

A maverick auteur, who photographs and edits his own features as well as write and produce them, Ceylan's distinct, sober, personal style, has already been heralded by his two earlier, award-winning efforts, Kasaba and Clouds of May. His latest offering, a piece of infinite sadness and loneliness, marks his gradual transition from the countryside to the big city.

Yusuf leaves his small town and comes to Istanbul, looking for eventual work on one of the harbour boats. Forced out of home by the economic crisis that left him jobless, he moves in with an older, distant relative, Mahmut who has made a career as a photographer in the big city. The encounter between the taciturn, passive young man, who roams aimlessly about the wintry city and the obsessive bachelor, clinging to the routines of his solitary life, are fleshed out by a myriad of details. Not much is said between the two men, nor does much happen either; this is essentially a series of insignificant events that accumulate into a desolate portrait of alienation amid normal circumstances...

Despite the urban shift, Ceylan's visual language remains the same: sparse dialogue, stunning camerawork, very long shots and longer silences. He takes the viewpoint of an observer, loathe to infringe on his characters' privacy, choosing instead to let the audience use its imagination rather than forcefeed it information squeezed from loquacious soliloquies and extreme close-ups.

Working along similar lines, and at a similar pace, to film-makers such as Tarkovsky (mentioned in the film) and Antonioni, Ceylan displays a keen visual flair, both in his chiaroscuro compositions and use of depth of field, which allows him to make the most of every setting. The bleak, cold, wet winter landscape almost penetrates the pores of the film to impart a similar feeling to the audience.

The actors show remarkable restraint, employing a minimalist approach that hints at, rather than displays, their emotions.

Dan Fainaru, Screen International
May 15, 2003

Ten Best Turkish Film | Dry Summer (1964) by Metin Erksan

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DRY SUMMER (Susuz Yaz)
Directed by Metin Erksan
Cast: Hulya Kocyigit, Ulvi Dogan, Erol Tas, Hakki Haktan, Yavuz Yalinkilic, Zeki Tuney
1964, 90 minutes. Black & White.
Festivals and Awards: Golden Bear, Berlin Film Festival

Synopsis: Dry Summer, a village story whose source is the struggle over land and water, is one of the most stunning examples of the clash between good and evil in the Turkish Cinema. Repeating the success he achieved with The Revenge of the Snakes, a Fakir Baykurt adaptation shot in 1962, in Dry Summer, Metin Erksan shows the confrontation between two brothers, Osman and Hasan. Osman surrounds the water that springs from their lands with barriers to prevent the village from using it. Being a good man, Hasan argues that the others should also use the water. Confessing a murder actually committed by his brother, Hasan is convicted and sent to jail. After his release he learns that Osman used deception to take away his wife and marry her. Hasan loses control. In the ensuing fight, he drowns Osman in the water and then clears away the barriers.

One of the best examples of the social realism that first appeared in Turkish Cinema in the early 60's, Dry Summer, due to its success in portraying the sexuality of rural areas and its ingenuity in handling erotic elements, earns a special place in our film history. One should also emphasize that the film marked the rise of Hülya Koçyigit's career.

Ten Best Turkish Film | Herd (1979) by Zeki Okten

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Directed by Zeki Okten
Cast: Tarik Akan, Melike Demirag, Tuncel Kurtiz, Meral Niron, Yaman Okay
1979, 125 minutes

Festivals and Awards:
Otto Dibelius Film Award; OCIC Award, Berlin Film Festival ; Golden Leopard, Best Actress Awards, Locarno Film Festival; Most Original and Imaginative Film, London Film Festival; Grand Prize, Antwerp Film Festival; Grand Prize, Valencia Film Festival; Belgian Film Critics' Award

Synopsis: The Herd (Sürü) sweeps you off your feet.. Like a tempest raging from the heart of East Anatolia, a mighty gust of wind.. Like an anguished scream.. Like an unbridled symphony.. Here is a piece of cinema that contends with every shape and form of resistance, prejudice and judgment, censure, philosophical uncertainty and rhetorical debate and does so with remarkable maturity..

The Herd unfolds on several quite different levels. It is a richly textured film that contains a multiplicity of themes; one that demands a multiplicity of approaches… Where to begin? The most important aspect of the film is the richness it derives from a masterful script. Yilmaz Güney (the writer, poet and astute observer of his country and people) has interwoven the story of Berivan and Sivan with extraordinary riches… Next to the one-dimensional, mechanical story-lines that too often characterize Turkish cinema this is a masterpiece of richness!...
The outstanding and most consequential character of the story/film is undoubtedly Hamo Aga. The ageing Kurdish chief is disagreeable, brutal, intolerant, callous throughout the film, but these traits are less the product of his psychological make-up than triggered by economic factors. Hamo senses that the familiar order is being shaken, that the ground is being swept away from under his feet… He strives to halt the process, to retain command of events (as he used to). His desperate endeavour turns him into a tyrant, an offensive and merciless individual. Hamo's 'evil' persona takes on fresh significance, symbolic value and new dimensions…

With its literary framework and cinematic flair, its powerful narration and liberal use of local colour, tents, dress, song and instrumentation, The Herd attains a startling, jarring quality of epic proportions. It is a fundamentally intelligent film that sets forth a solid dialectic; a film that frames its popular, visual and cinematic appeal in an irresistibly engaging epic structure… It is the product of a team effort, where every member of the team has excelled, from Güney the screenwriter to Zeki Ökten the director; from DoP Izzet Akay to musician Zülfü Livaneli; from the accomplished leads, Tarik Akan, Melike Demirag and Tuncel Kurtiz, to the secondary roles… There is no doubt that The Herd will enjoy a more enduring presence than Turkish cinema, that it will continue to impress audiences, to be talked about and discussed for many years to come…

Atilla Dorsay - An extract from his book, 'The Yilmaz Güney Book

Ten Best Turkish Film | Mr. Muhsin (1987) by Yavuz Turgul

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MR. MUHSIN (Muhsin Bey)
Directed by Yavuz Turgul
Cast: Sener Sen, Ugur Yucel, Sermin Hurmeric, Osman Cavci, Erdogan Sicak
1987, 145 minutes

Festivals and Awards: San Sebastian Award, San Sebastian Film Festival; Best Film, Best Script, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor Awards, Golden Orange Film Festival, Antalya ;Special Jury Award, Istanbul Film Festival

Synopsis: A tragicomic challenge to the changing face of post-1980 Turkey, changing values, the old order and the new, Muhsin Bey holds up an unforgiving mirror to society.

The film is framed around the relationship between Muhsin Kanadikirik, a music organizer of advancing years, committed principles and scant achievement, a man as passionate about classical Turkish music as he is abhorrent of Arabesque and resistant to the march of the times, and the young Ali Nazik, a wannabe folksinger of penetrating voice from Turkey's south-east; a premise founded on collision. In Muhsin Bey, which he wrote as well as directing, Yavuz Turgul leans less towards intercultural dialogue as towards cultural clashes. What is more, he employs the most effective formulae of 'old' and 'new' Turkish cinema to craft a highly engaging presentation of the clashes. The friendships, betrayals, love affairs and unexpected twists flood to the screen in the manner of a Yesilçam classic, but at the same time service a quite different narrative.

With outstanding performances by the two leads, Sener Sen and Ugur Yücel, who offsets his accomplished counterpart flawlessly throughout the film, Muhsin Bey approaches life's 'winners' and 'losers' from a sociological angle and takes on the mantle of a thoroughly entertaining, impressive farce in the process. By association Ali Nazik, the upstart who storms to stardom the easy way, is Yavuz Turgul's ultimate loser.

Interestingly, there is also a palpable documentary feel to the film. Witness, for example, the naked realism of scenes in historic Beyoglu, the backstreets, the music halls and singing contests.. And it is this that makes the film one of the most striking examples in cinema of the relationship between place and person.

Tunca Arslan

Ten Best Turkish Film | Innocence/Masumiyet by Zeki Demirkubuz

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INNOCENCE (Masumiyet)
Directed by Zeki Demirkubuz
Cast: Guven Kirac, Haluk Bilginer, Derya Alabora, Yalcin Cakmak, Melis Tuna
1997, 113 minutes

Festivals and Awards: Grand Prize and Best Actor Awards, Angers; George and Ruta Sadoul Grand Prize; Grand Prize Films From South, Oslo; Special Jury Prize, Mediterranean Film Festival, Brussels;
Public Prize, Innsbruck; Grand Prize and Best Actor Awards, Tebessa; Istanbul International Film Festival, Best Turkish Film of the Year; Second Prize, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Editing Awards, Golden Orange Film Festival, Antalya, Turkey; Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Golden Cocoon Film Festival, Adana, Turkey; Turkish Cinema Writers Association Awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Script

The film participated in various international film festivals and it was also shown at French cinemas. Masumiyet (Innocence) was also nominated in the Venice, Mardel Plata, Strasbourg, Selonica, Hamburg and Vancouver Film Festivals. It received the "Great Award" and the "Best Actor Award" in the Angers Festival, "Great Award" in Paris and the "Great Award" in the Oslo Film Festival.

Synopsis: "Cinema has a language of its own. More often than not, the combination of casting errors and indeterminate plot mean cinema bears no resemblance to real life. But cinema also has the power to be life-changing. A good film can alter perceptions, invoke an entirely new language and provide the same kind of stimulation as the finest literature. To give an example... I have, for a long time, been living with a film I felt compelled to watch twice in rapid succession. Zeki Demirkubuz's Innocence provoked me into thinking about cinema, acting, the world, innocence, childhood, poverty, compassion, conscience, language, dumbness; in short, about life - a life I had founded on personal quest. Innocence will rank forever alongside the girl's eyes in the finale of Tarkovsky's Stalker, one of Mahler's Songs for Dead Children, Vermeer's light, one of Blake's visions, a blue line by Ece Ayhan...

Innocence opens the kind of doors we are unlikely ever to see again in Turkish cinema. And this is exactly why the film should be remembered alongside Metin Erksan's extraordinarily idiosyncratic style of cinema. Demirkubuz is insistent that we understand his self-styled language. Beyond the actual story he tells, he presents the story of how he translates that story into his language. Like all great filmmakers, he uses his language without the least concession to the syntax imposed by Hollywood cinema. The dramaturgical rules that commercial cinema has developed after years of experience are of no concern to him. As a result, you are caught up in a liberation process while watching the film. The film's potent and utterly bewildering narrative style is incomparable.

In capturing memorable cinematic moments, Demirkubuz is rewarded for his intransigence, his perversity, his obsessive love of the work he does. Like the character, Ugur, whose passion drags her unflinchingly towards death, he focuses on his personal obsessions and stares us straight in the face without the slightest concern for commercial success. This is how he has the courage to film the 10-minute scene where Bekir tells his life story - a scene that is sure to go down in the annals of Turkish cinema - in a single shot."

Yildirim Turker, Radikal

What's Human Anyway?/ Insan Nedir Ki? (2004)

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Ten Best Turkish Film | Bride (1973) by Lutfi Akad

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Directed by Omer Lutfi Akad
Cast: Hulya Kocyigit, Kerem Yilmazer, Kahraman Kiral, Ali Sen, Aliye Rona, Kamuran Usluer, Nazan Adali, Seden Kiziltunc
1973, 97 minutes
Festivals and Awards: Best Film, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor Awards in the Golden Cocoon (Altin Koza) Film Festival, Adana, Turkey

Synopsis: The Bride, which depicts the struggles of a migrant Anatolian family to adapt to and survive in the very different conditions of urban Istanbul, is one of the best presentations of internal migration in Turkish cinema. It is also the first, and most accomplished film in Ömer Lütfi Akad's celebrated trilogy, which with The Wedding (Dügün, 1973) and Blood Money (Diyet) has earned a respected place in world cinema for its thematic unity. The Bride masterfully exposes the evolution of 'little Anatolia' in Istanbul, a phenomenon that would go on to acquire far larger dimensions.

The streets of Istanbul are paved with gold - or so people believe… The Bride portrays the migrant mentality with disarming realism: the unfaltering determination to build a 'present' and 'future' in the big city, even if that means selling everything back home. And the exceptional performance of Hülya Koçyigit in the role of Meryem reinforces the pathos. Here is a film of 'one-way' journeys: we see the young Meryem lose her ailing son as life grows ever harsher; we follow her to the local factory, where she eventually signs on; we watch parallel developments in the family she married into. And their respective odysseys are central to the 'great leaps forward' of Turkish cinema at the beginning of the 1970s.

Ten Best Turkish Film | The Girl with the Red Scarf (1977) by Atif Yilmaz

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THE GIRL WITH THE RED SCARF (Selvi Boylum Al Yazmalim)
Directed by Atif Yilmaz
Cast: Turkan Soray, Kadir Inanir, Ahmet Mekin, Nurhan Nur, Hulya Tuglu
1977, 90 minutes

Festivals and Awards: Best Director, Best Cinematography, Second Film Awards, Golden Orange Film Festival, Antalya; Best Actress Award, Tashkent Film Festival

Synopsis: A classic and endlessly watchable love story that never dates… Inspired by the novel of acclaimed Soviet writer Cengiz Aytmatov, Atif Yilmaz adapts one of history's greatest love stories to the screen with the greatest finesse. It is said, in fact, that the French poet Aragon described The Girl With The Red Scarf as "the world's greatest love story".

We begin by being lured into the captivating world of Ilyas, a truck driver who delivers sand to a dam construction, his newly acquired wife Asya and their young son Samet. But the legendary love affair between Asya and Ilyas is soon shaken by jealousy, an alcohol habit and extra-marital affair. Ilyas, who genuinely loves his wife but is hampered by an ever weakening character, ends up walking out when job-related problems come to a head. The helpless Asya is left with their son to cope alone. She waits patiently for her husband to return… Until she runs into Cemsit, a sympathetic figure who Samet soon begins to identify as his father. When she finally surrenders to his affections, life takes on an entirely new hue.

But then, years later, Ilyas suddenly appears from nowhere, demanding his wife and child back. His arrival rekindles the questions that have preoccupied hearts and minds since time immemorial. What is love? What makes a lover? What makes a spouse? What makes a father?... And which is harder: to go back or not to go back?

The Girl With The Red Scarf stands out for its brilliant casting, the polished performances of its three leads, Türkan Soray, Kadir Inanir and Ahmet Mekin, the refined direction of Atif Yilmaz and highly effective score of Cahit Berkay. Be warned: this is a film that plays mercilessly on the heartstrings.

Tunca Arslan

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Ten Best Turkish Film | Motherland Hotel (1986) by Omer Kavur

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Directed by Omer Kavur
Cast: Macit Koper, Serra Yilmaz, Orhan Çagman, Sahika Tekand, Osman Alyanak,Yasar Güner
1986, 110 minutes

Festivals and Awards:

Grand Prize, Nantes Film Festival; Best Turkish Film, Istanbul Cinema Days; Film Critics Award, Venice Film Festival; Bronze Prize, Valencia Mediterranean Film Festival; Second Film and Best Director Awards, Antalya Film Festival; Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Score Awards by the Turkish Film Critics

Synopsis: Local standout at the Istanbul Film Days was Motherland Hotel, a sophisticated tale of pathological loneliness with nods to Freud by Ömer Kavur, a young director who has already made seven features. A surprising, stimulating work with nothing of the conventionally "Turkish" about it, "Motherland Hotel" is already on its way to international fests and is an excellent pick-up for adventurous art cirsuits.

Setting is a sprawling old hotel in a small provincial town, which a quiet young man named Zebercet (Macit Koper) has inherited from his parents. Pic's lo-key start sets the stage but hardly prepares the viewer for the shift in register that occurs after a pretty girl spends a night in the hotel. She promises to return in a week, and Zebercet begins an impatient vigil. When she doesn't come back, he starts falling to pieces in a most preoccupying way, revealing a psychopathic, Norman Bates personality below his melancholy, reserved exterior. First he sends prospective clients away, and passes his time sleeping in "her" room. After meeting a youth at a cockfight, Zebercet hesitantly turns down his homosexual overtures, only to rape the hotel maid and strangle her to death. He leaves the body where it is, kills her cat and monchalantly helps police get on the trail of an old client. Only at pic's end, after Zebercet has quietly done away with himself, does camera move in on an old photo of his mother, who has the same face as the girl he waited for in vain.

Apart from its psychological intrigue, "Hotel" is splendidly shot and edited. Koper puts on a one-man show of perturbing fascination.

Yung, Variety
May 6, 1987

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Turkish film shows two-sided Gallipoli

Turkish film shows two-sided Gallipoli
Apr 16 2005 / AAP

A view of Gallipoli from all sides has angered Turkish traditionalists as it examines the universal tragedy of the World War I campaign. The Turkish-made documentary film Gallipoli premiered in London this week, showing a human side to the soldiers from both the allied and Turkish forces.
While a minority of extreme Turks believe all reference to Gallipoli should portray the Turkish soldiers as the defenders and the allies as the evil invaders, director Tolga Ornek has shown all the combatants in the same light. "Our goal was to make a universal film in which every country could find something of their own," Ornek said. "I didn't want to make solely a Turkish film or solely Australian film or British or New Zealand." Combining actual footage, stills and re-enactments with previously unseen letters and diaries of soldiers, Gallipoli examines the Turkish, British, Australian and New Zealand experience of the horrific nine-month campaign which ran from April 25, 1915.

"The concept was so ill-conceived, so hastily conceived," Ornek said. "All you have left was the valour, courage, self sacrifice and tenacity of the soldiers. That's what I see in Gallipoli.
"The trench experience for both sides is almost the same. "They're the people who suffered the consequence of false orders, bad orders and ill-prepared attacks so I wanted to concentrate on their experience and their personal suffering. "A lot of films have been done on Gallipoli, and done well, that concentrate on strategies, politicians. "But never on both sides have I seen a documentary that humanises it, adds faces and names to the characters.

"I want the audience to feel the characters' anxiety - 'I've got to survive, I've got to make it' - and so you can have a sense of what the families felt." The film premiered at the Imperial War Museum in London in front of a crowd of Turkish and British political and military figures, including Alexander Hamilton, the great nephew of allies commander General Sir Ian Hamilton.

Narrated by Sam Neill and Jeremy Irons, it premieres in New Zealand on Monday and in Australia at the War Memorial in Canberra on April 21st.

The film tracks, through their own letters and photos, the Gallipoli experiences of Australian brothers Joe and Oliver Cumberland from Scone in NSW as well as British, New Zealand and Turkish soldiers.
Ornek ensures the 21,000 British soldiers who died in the campaign are well represented in the film.
"The British high command is worthy of almost every blame. The government, the politicians, the generals, but the soldiers, I think, deserve as much respect as the Anzacs and the Turks," he said.
"If I insist this film is on a human, personal scale then the British have to get their due as well.
"If the British officers sent anyone to any slaughter, they sent their troops first."

More than 76,000 Turks were killed in the campaign, along with nearly 9,000 Australians, 2,700 New Zealanders and 1,300 Indians. After its New Zealand and Australian premieres next week, the film, which took Ornek seven years to make, is expected to be released in cinemas in May.
The Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs puts the number of British troops killed in the Gallipoli campaign at 21,200 with almost 10,000 French dead.