Monday, December 24, 2007

2007 Eurimages support for 4 Turkish Directors

Eurimages [1] Co-production support – Year 2007
Last update : 20.12.2007
Feature films (56) : 21 060 000 €
Documentaries (5) : 448 000 €
Total Amount (61) : 21 508 000 €

Adalet By Ali Ozgenturk (Turkey)
Feature Film
Awarded: 150 000 €

Hayaller By Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey)
Feature Film
Awarded: 235 000 €

Hayat Var By Reha Erdem (Turkey)
Feature Film
Awarded: 200 000 €

Pandoranin Kutusu English title : Pandora's Box
French title : La boîte de Pandorre
By Yesim Ustaoglu (Turkey)
Feature Film
Awarded: 200 000 €

[1] Eurimages is the Council of Europe fund for the co-production, distribution and exhibition of European cinematographic works. Set up in 1988 as a Partial Agreement it currently has 33 Member States. Eurimages aims to promote the European film industry by encouraging the production and distribution of films and fostering co-operation between professionals.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Profile | Mesut Kara


He was born in 1961 in Istanbul. Besides his literature works, he is a cinema writer for 15 years. Mesut Kara who is an Art Director in advertising sector, also produced programs about cinema. He has published two books named “Artizler Kahvesi” (Artists’ Coffeehouse) and “Yeşilçam’da Unutulmayan Yüzler” (Unforgettable faces in Yeşilcam). He has been writer and editor in many magazines. He is a text writer and consultant in a Cinema Program named in Cinema Show broadcasted on Show TV. He took responsibility for preparation and presentation of a cinema program named Hayalet Mektebi (School of Ghosts) broadcasted on Kanal 6. He was an editor-in-chief and page designer in Literature magazine named “Uç”. As of November 2007 he is the publisher of Cinemascope Dergisi,with a board of writers such as Prof. Dr. Oğuz Makal, Engin Ayça, Ahmet Soner, Taner Ay, Orhan Ünser and Barış Bardakçı


Yılmaz Güney Documentary (Director and Text Writer)
Erkan Yücel Documentary (Director and Text Writer)
“Unutulmayan Yüzler” (Unforgettable Faces) documentary series about the old-time Turkish actors, including Sezer Sezin, Belgin Doruk, Ayhan Işık, Bülent Oran, Hayati Hamzaoğlu, Turgut Özatay.
JUST PASSED FROM HERE |Simdi Gecti Buradan
(Director and Text Writer)
Documentary. 2005, 60 minutes| In Turkish with English subtitles
Art adventure and biography of Erkan Yucel who is unforgettable face of cinema and legendary actor of theatre...

All time B.O. spectator ranking (as of November 2006)

1- Kurtlar Vadisi-Irak 4.255.181
2- G.O.R.A. 4.001.711
3- Babam ve Oğlum 3.813.437
4- Vizontele 3.308.383
5- Vizontele Tuuba 2.894.802
6- Organize İşler 2.610.563
7- Hababam Sınıfı Askerde 2.586.132
8- Eşkıya 2.568.339
9- Kahpe Bizans 2.472.162
10- Hababam Sınıfı Üç Buçuk 2.067.661

Friday, December 14, 2007

BBC Four World Cinema Award nominates Climates (Iklimler) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

The BBC Four World Cinema Award is an annual prize given out to celebrate the best in world cinema. A shortlist of six films is made by the UK's leading critics, film-school heads and festival directors from the foreign language films released in that year in the UK. The winner is selected by a panel of judges whose decision making process is screened as part of the award ceremony, screened live on BBC Four.

Now entering its fifth year, the BBC Four World Cinema Award ceremony has been hosted by Jonathan Ross from the BFI Southbank in London since the beginning. This year's award will be announced on Wednesday 30 January 2008, and broadcast on BBC Four Saturday 2 February 2008

2008 Nominees: The Lives Of Others (Das Leben Der Anderen), Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Germany; The Science Of Sleep (La Science Des Rêves), Michel Gondry, France/Italy/USA; Climates (Iklimler), Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey/France; Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno), Guillermo del Toro, Mexico/Spain/USA; Syndromes And A Century (Sang Sattawat), Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand/France/Austria

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Cannes 2007 Review "The Edge of Heaven "

The Edge of Heaven By Ray Bennett
Bottom Line: Intricate and moving drama about life's struggles and near misses.

May 24, 2007

Akin's tale is about two families whose fate becomes entwined.

CANNES -- Director Fatih Akin continues his insightful exploration of the things that divide and bridge different cultures and generations in his absorbing In Competition film "The Edge of Heaven." Like his 2004 Berlin Golden Bear winner "Head-On," the film deals with Turkish folk living in Germany but this time he brings his story back to Istanbul. Love was his topic in the earlier film, and now Akin turns his attention to death. It may not be a wise thing to label the major chapters announcing the deaths of key characters, but he tells their stories with flair and compassion. Audiences that responded to "Head-On" will be pleased with "Heaven," and festival and art house prospects look good.The director, who also wrote the script, achieves a keen-eyed view of the Turkish expatriates in this film while sustaining his remarkable ability to make them universal. His tale is about two families whose fate becomes entwined in ways they don't discover within the time frame of the film.It starts in Germany with Turkish immigrant Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz), a crusty retired widower whose son Nejat (Baki Davrak) is a successful academic. Uncouth but charismatic, Ali still seeks pleasures of the flesh, which is how he meets Yeter (Nursel Kose), a severely beautiful Turkish woman who works in a brothel. Taken with her charms and pleased to be speaking his native tongue, Ali proposes that he become her sole customer and asks her to move in with him.

Cannes 2007 Review "Egg/Yumurta"

Egg/Yumurta By Duane Byrge

Bottom Line: Saadet Askoy lights up an otherwise dull and dim drama.May 24, 2007

CANNES -- Yusuf, a withdrawn poet living in Istanbul, returns to his tiny hometown for his mother's funeral. He's been distanced, not only geographically but emotionally: Yusuf has not kept close contact with his mother. Basically, he's sort of a somnambulist. Nothing much arouses him, though we give him the benefit of the doubt that his stoic demeanor at his mother's funeral really masks deep grief.Hoping to get back to his solitary life as a used book store owner, Yusuf is nonetheless distracted by the vibrant beauty Ayla, who has been caring for his mother the past several years. Despite his dour, uncommunicative ways, things meander forward with Ayla. Deadened by filmmaker Semih Kaplanoglu's drab aesthetic, "Yumurta" seems unlikely to travel beyond the borders of Turkey where, evidently, Turks will appreciate certain nuances. In pacing and vitality, this Directors' Fortnight entrant is almost as listless as its drab lead character. Plaudits to Saadet Askoy for her radiant turn as Ayla; she lights up an otherwise dull and dim drama.

Golden Globe considerations for Takva and Bliss

November 29, 2007 – 61 foreign language films have been qualified for “The 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards” consideration honoring 2007 achievements, it was announced today by Jorge Camara, President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Bliss Turkey

Takva Turkey

Nominations for “The 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards” will be announced at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 13. “The 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards” will take place Sunday, January 13, 2008 at The Beverly Hilton with a live telecast airing on NBC

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Silver Caravelle to "YUMURTA"

EUROPEAN FILM FESTIVAL ESTORIL (Portugal) presented its first edition on 8-17 November 2007

JURY Miquel Barceló |Stéphane Braunschweig |Don DeLillo |Asia Argento |Ruy Duarte De Carvalho

AWARDS:GOLDEN CARAVELLE (30.000 euros)"TUSSENSTAND", Netherlands, Directed by Mijke de Jong
SILVER CARAVELLE (20.000 euros) "YUMURTA", Turkey, Greece, Directed by Semih Kaplanoglu

Competition Films
…A Bude Hur /Petr Nikolaev Czech Republic , 2007, 86’
Actrices /Valeria Bruni Tedeschi France, 2007, 107’
L'Été Indien /Alain Raoust France, 2007, 100’
Garage /Leonard Abrahamson Ireland, 2007, 85’
Gegenüber /Jan Bonny Germany, 2007, 100’
Gruz 200 /Aleksei Balabanov Russia, 2007, 89’
La Linea Recta /José María de Orbe Spain, 2006, 95’
Madonnen /Maria Speth Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, 2007, 125
Nu Te Supara, Dar… /Adina-Elena Pintilie Romania, 2007, 50’
Miehen Työ /Aleksi Salmenperä Finland, 2007, 100’
Yumurta /Semih Kaplanoglu Turkey, Greece, 2007, 97’
Sügisball /Veiko Õunpuu Estonia, 2007, 123’
Le Tueur /Cédric Anger France, 2007, 90’
Tussenstand /Mijke de Jong Netherlands, 2007, 80’

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Awards | 3rd International Eurasia Film Festival

3rd International Eurasia Film Festival /Part of 44. Golden Orange FF 2007, Antalya, Turkey

Best Film "The Band's Visit" (Bikur Ha-tizmoret) Dir: Eran Kolirin
Best Director Abdellatatif Kechiche "The Secret of the Grain" (La Graine et le Mulet)
Critics' Award "Under the Bombs" (Sous les Bombes)
Netpac Award Two ex-aequo awards: "Egg" (Yumurta) and "Under the Bombs" (Sous Les Bombes"
International Eurasia Film Festival Script Development Award
50 Reasons All In Her Eyes Scriptwriter: Cem Akas

Awards | 44th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival

44th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival National Feature Film Competition Awards
Best Film "EGG" (Yumurta) Dir: Semih Kaplanoglu
Digiturk Behlül Dal Award for the Best Newcomer
Saadet Isil Aksoy (Actress) "EGG" (Yumurta)
Avni Tolunay Yurici Kargo Jury Special Recognition
Best Actor Murat Han "BLISS" (MUTLULUK)
Best Actress Ozgu Namal "BLISS" (MUTLULUK)
Best Script "EGG" (Yumurta) Dir: Semih Kaplanoglu – Orcun Koksal
Best Cinematography Özgür Eken "EGG" (Yumurta)
Best Art Director Naz Erayda "EGG" (Yumurta)
Best Music Zulfu Livaneli "Bliss" (Mutluluk)
Best Sound Design Orcun Korluca "Bliss" (Mutluluk)
Best Special Effects No award given
Best Costume Design Naz Erayda "EGG" (Yumurta)
Best Make-Up & Hair Design Songül İbrahim, Suzan Kardeş "Fog and the Night" (Sis ve Gece)
Best Laboratory Safak Studios "Fog and the Night" (Sis ve Gece)

44th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival National Short Film Competition
Best Short Film "Welcome to Baby" (Hosgeldin Bebek)

44th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival National Documentary Film Competition

Best Documentary Award No award given

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Inaugural 2007 Lux Prize to Fatih Akin's Film

Hans-Gert Pottering (r) giving the Lux prize to Hanna Schygulla and Klaus Maek, producer of Fatih Akin's "Auf des anderen seite". The new prize, the Prix LUX, was picked directly by the 785 elected members of the European Parliament in Brussels. The Parliament will then pay to subtitle and produce prints of the winning film in all 23 of the E.U.'s official languages.

Three films were contending for the first edition of the European Parliament's "Prix LUX" film prize, which wasawarded on 24 October during the October plenary session in Strasbourg. This prize - created by the European Parliament Bureau in 2006 and with which the Culture and Education Committee is closely associated - is awarded in recognition of films illustrating the values and diversity of European cultures or which inform debate on ideas about building Europe. Thre three films in contention for the 2007 prize were shown from 1 to 18 October at the European Parliament in Brussels.

They were:
-Auf der anderen Seite, by Fatih Akin (The Edge of Heaven)
-4 luni, 3 saptamini si 2 zile, by Cristian Mungiu (4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)
-Belle toujours, by Manoel di Oliveira

All three were chosen, according to an E.U. spokesman, for their role in "illuminating the public debate on European integration." The politics are evident in Mungiu's drama, which follows two desperate women trying to arrange an illegal abortion amid the terror of the Chauchesku dictatorship. Or in Akin's multifaceted drama, which traces the lives of six people caught between the culture and politics that divide Turkey from Europe. There is less obvious politics in Oliveira's drama which is an update, 38 years later, of Luis Bunuel's erotic masterpiece "Belle de jour" (1967).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

REES-465 | Selected Articles (PDF)

NEW ...Film Notes 1-12

Plus Modern/Postmodern Philosophy and Film Theory
(click to download 11x17 chart in PDF)

PDF File 1
On Film narrative and Narrative meaning / George Wilson
Notes on Spectator Emotion and Ideological Film Criticism /Carl Plantinga
PDF File 2
The Matrix of Visual Culture/ Patricia Pisters
Chapter 6 (de)Terrorialising Forces of the Sound Machine
PDF File 3
Questions of Genre/ Steve Neale
Towards a Third Cinema/ Fernando Solanas and Octavio Gettino
PDF File 4
Deleuze’s Toolbox and Glossary to Cinema 1 and Cinema 2
PDF File 5
Remapping World Cinema / Identitiy, culture and politics in film
Towards a positive definition of World Cinema/Lucia Nagip
Consuming 'Bollywood' in the global age: the stange case of 'unfine' world cinema/Kushik Bhaumik
PDF File 6
The Real Gaze: Film Theory after Lacan
Introduction Todd McGowan

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007



Modern/Postmodern Philosophy and Film Theory
(click to download 11x17 chart in PDF)


LECTURE (David Cuthell) WED 4:15-6:05 ICC 205B
SCREENING (Erju Ackman) TUE 6:15-8:15PM ICC 118

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Takva nominated for European discovery award

Takva nominated for European discovery award

The director of Turkish movie "Takva", Ozer Kiziltan was nominated as a candidate for "European Discovery " award which is presented to promising directors within the scope of European Film Awards.

Jury members chose 4 among 63 movies for the nomination.

Other nominees are Eran Kolirin's "Bikur Ha-Tizmoret/The Band's Visit" (Israel), Anton Corbijn's "Control" (Britain) and Jan Bonny's "Gegenbe/Counterparts" (Germany).

1,800 members of European Film Academy will watch the movies and cast their votes on December 1st, 2007 in Berlin.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Review | Screamers by Peter Debruge

Screamers | (Documentary -- U.K.) A Maya Releasing release of a BBC Television and the Raffy Manoukian Charity presentation of a MG2 Prods. production in association with Isis Prods. U.K. Produced by Nick de Grunwald, Tim Swain, Peter McAlevey, Carla Garapedian. Directed by Carla Garapedian.

With: Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, John Dolmayan, Samantha Power, Stepan Haytayan, Maritza Ohanesian, Peter Galbraith, Salih Booker, Sibel Edmonds, Dennis Hastert.

System of a Down lead singer Serj Tankian and his grandfather, Stepan Haytayan, reflect on their Armenian heritage in 'Screamers.'
What does metal band System of a Down have to do with the mass extermination of Armenians in 1915? Descended from survivors of the so-called "Armenian genocide," band members teamed with Armenian-American filmmaker Carla Garapedian and partner Peter McAlevey to make "Screamers," a soapbox doc that intercuts concert footage with talking heads and scenes of horrifying human atrocity. But a noble cause does not a good movie make. Pic repeatedly drowns its impassioned message with music, creating an awkward hybrid between history lesson and concert doc that will be a tough sell to either aud.

If the recent Dixie Chicks study "Shut Up & Sing" demonstrates how quickly the public can turn on artists for being politically outspoken, "Screamers" counters with a more optimistic view: System of a Down's fans actually expect a level of political activism from the band, who have made it their personal cause to spread awareness of the "ethnic cleansing" Hitler reportedly used as his model for the Holocaust. To this day, Turkey denies the "historical intrigue" of the deportations and massacres as a lie, prosecuting critics for denigrating "Turkishness," while U.S. and U.K. politicians resist officially recognizing the Armenian genocide.

With his Weird Al hair and King Tut goatee, lead singer Serj Tankian proves most eloquent on the subject. Docu shows Tankian reflecting on his heritage, both on the road and in conversation with his disabled grandfather, who shares stories of the long marches he endured as a child.

Pic's most surprising revelation concerns the extent to which System of a Down use their celebrity to draw attention to the issue (many of their songs address the subject directly), even going so far as to broadcast related news footage during their concerts and giving classroom lectures on the subject.

And yet, the movie scrambles the message. Every few minutes, just as the interview footage begins to gather momentum, another heavy-metal song rumbles to life, and Garapedian and editor Bill Yahraus whisk auds away again to an arena where goth kids are worshipping at the band's feet.

On one hand, System of a Down specifically wants the world to acknowledge the eradication of more than a million Armenians as "genocide," a semantic distinction that might pave the way to reparations. But pic doesn't define the term until 50 minutes in, and no sooner does it explain the "G word's" potential -- "If it's 'genocide,' then you have to do something about it" -- than it offers the counter-example: "The Bush administration seemed to think if they called it 'genocide,' then they were doing something."

"Screamers" begins to lose focus as montages take on the many calamities of the past century at once. Photos of forlorn Armenians and skin-and-bones corpses certainly turn the stomach, but pic's slideshow-of-horrors strategy blends them with images of the Holocaust and mass killings in Rwanda, Sarajevo, Srebenica and Darfur, making it tricky to distinguish one mass grave from another.

The effect, much like the band's music, is one of shock and rage. Instead of communicating the facts in an organized and effective way, the film embodies an emotional response to the atrocities. The band and crew seem to be venting their frustration, but auds seeking a provocative intellectual discourse would be better served by Atom Egoyan's "Ararat."

Most of the interviews with relevant politicians and activists take place primarily on park benches and noisy city streets, which gives the film a disorganized and almost impulsive feel, while fighter-jet clips and other anti-violence inserts have a way of upstaging the rocking concert footage.

Camera (color, HD), Charles Rose; editor, Bill Yahraus; music, Jeff Atmajian; music supervisor, Liz Gallacher; supervising sound editor, Vince Tennant; associate producers, Ara Sarafian, Eleanor Thomas. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Dec. 4, 2006. (In AFI Film Festival.) Running time: 91 MIN.

Review | Dol: The Valley of Tambourines by Derek Elley

Dol: The Valley of Tambourines |Dol |(France - Germany)
A NovoCine (in France)/Mitosfilm (in Germany) release of an HS Prods. (France)/Mitosfilm (Germany) production. (International sales: Mitosfilm, Berlin.) Produced by Hiner Saleem. Directed, written by Hiner Saleem.

With: Nazmi Kirik, Belcim Bilgin, Omer Ciaw Sin, Rojin Ulker, Tarik Akreyi, Ciwan Haco, Abdullah Keskin, Sipel Dogu Lesar Erdogan, Ayten Soykok, Sivan Selim, Taha Xelil, Bahman Haci, Sabr Abdurrahman.

Iraqi-Kurdish director Hiner Saleem ("Kilometer Zero," "Vodka Lemon") doesn't have anything fresh to say in "Dol," another dramatic reverie on the plight of his people that is strictly fest fare for Middle East specialists. Shorn of the irony that enlivened his previous pics, drama-free item simply shuffles a group of characters who symbolize political and ethnic positions around a mountainous landscape where Turkey, Iraq and Iran meet.

During a wedding ceremony between Azad (Nazmi Kirik) and Nazenin (Sipel Dogu Lesar Erdogan) in the rocky village of Balliova (pop. 8,200), a fight breaks out after provocation by the Turkish military. Azad flees in a truck to Iraqi Kurdistan and meets various characters in the fluid society, where everyone from separatists to drug runners co-exist. There's Ceto (Abdullah Keskin), a Kurd from Paris visiting his family; Jekaf (Rojin Ulker), kidnapped as a teen by Iraqi soldiers; and the beautiful Taman (Belcim Bilgin), who intros Azad to guerrillas fighting the Iranian government. Dialogue is utilitarian ("Here our land is free. It's a new era for Kurdistan"), lensing of the scrubby landscape impressive in a static way. "Dol" is Kurdish for both "drums" and "valley."

Camera (color), Andreas Sinanos; editors, Dora Mantzoros, Bonita Papastathi; music, Ozgur Akgul, Mehmet Erdem, Vedat Yildirim; art director, Saman Sabunci; costumes, Belcim Bilgin. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Dec. 12, 2007. Original Kurdish title: Dol. Kurdish, Turkish dialogue. Running time: 87 MIN.

Review | Bliss by Derek Elley

Bliss | Mutluluk (Turkey-Greece)

An ANS presentation of an ANS Prods. (Turkey)/Highway Prods. (Greece) production. (International sales: ANS, Istanbul.) Produced by Abdullah Oguz. Co-producer, George Lykiardopoulos. Directed by Abdullah Oguz. Screenplay, Kubilay Tuncer, Elif Ayan, Oguz, based on the novel by Zulfu Livaneli.

With: Talat Bulut, Ozgu Namal, Murat Han, Mustafa Avkiran, Emin Gursoy, Sebnem Kostem, Meral Cetinkaya, Erol Babaoglu, Alpay Atalan, Idil Yener, Lena Leyla Basak, Kubilay Tuncer, Ali Zeytin, Ugur Izgi, Lale Mansur, Emel Goksu.

Traditional and modern mores in contempo Turkey cross paths in the strikingly lensed "Bliss," an upscale meller with shades of "Knife in the Water." Formulaic yarn about a disgraced Anatolian girl, her putative killer and an Istanbul sociology prof who find themselves cruising the Sea of Marmara in his luxury yacht is given dramatic heft by good perfs -- especially by actress du jour Ozgu Namal -- and careful direction by producer-helmer Abdullah Oguz. Given the international stature of composer-writer Zulfu Livaneli's original novel, accessible pic could even sail into limited theatrical ports as well as festival berths.

In the barren landscape of eastern Turkey, the unconscious body of 17-year-old Meryem (Namal) is brought back to the house of her father, Tahsin (Emin Gursoy), and harridan stepmother, Done (Sebnem Kostem). Meryem won't talk about what happened, but her family feels shamed by what they believe to be her compliant loss of chastity.

Ali Riza Amca (Mustafa Avkiran), Tahsin's cousin and the village's local bigshot, decrees she should pay for her "crime" according to ancient custom. He orders his son, Cemal (Murat Han), fresh out of military service, to take Meryem to Istanbul and quietly dispose of her en route. Meryem herself thinks she's being taken to meet Yakup (Erol Babaoglu), another of Ali Riza's sons, for an arranged marriage.

On the way, Cemal can't bring himself to bump off Meryem and, in Istanbul, is given a tongue-lashing by Yakup, who long ago broke free of the village and its crazy customs. But Cemal can't return until the job is done.

At this half-hour point, pic cuts to a wealthy Istanbul couple, Irfan (Talat Bulut) and Aysel (Lale Mansur), whose marriage has clearly stalled. In a development that the script doesn't prepare viewers for, Irfan just walks out of their snazzy home, leaving a note that he needs "a chance to breathe."

As Cemal and Meryem hide out at a remote fish farm, they cross paths with Irfan on his yacht. After joining him on his cruise, Meryem finds herself caught between the two men's growing affections for her, while, unknown to all, Ali Reza's men are hot on her trail.

Livaneli's original novel has been stripped of much of its political subtext and some of the two men's backgrounding, and the character of Meryem has been placed centerstage. But as a quality mainstream movie, it still works, thanks in no small part to Namal's sly perf as a browbeaten country lass who's still capable of humor and tenderness.

Thesp works well against Han's Cemal, a conflicted ex-army type given to sudden explosions of masculine prowess, and vet Bulut's sophisticated, avuncular Irfan. Director Oguz marbles the film with several lighter moments before the admirably brief climax and coda back in Anatolia, which is surprisingly moving.

Production values are tops, with eye-watering lensing by Bosnian d.p. Mirsad Herovic of locations in Marmara, Bodrum and Anatolia. Music by Livaneli himself adds further professional color.

Camera (color), Mirsad Herovic; editors, Levent Celebi, Oguz; music, Livaneli; art director, Tolunay Turkoz; sound (Dolby Digital), Konstantinos Kittou. Reviewed at Istanbul Film Festival (national competition), April 12, 2007. Running time: 128 MIN.

Review | Stolen Eyes (Otkradnati Ochi ) by Jay Weissberg

Stolen Eyes| Otkradnati Ochi
(Bulgaria-Turkey) A Gala Film (Bulgaria)/Yaka DDE Film (Turkey) production. (International sales: Gala, Sofia.) Produced by Galya Toneva, Kiril Kirilov, Atilla Yucer, Kerem Altug. Directed by Radoslav Spassov. Screenplay, Spassov, Neri Terzieva, based on an idea by Terzieva.

With: Valeri Yordanov, Vessela Kazakova, Nejat Isler, Itzhak Finzi, Iliana Kitanova, Stoyan Aleksiev, Maria Kavardjikova, Deyan Donkov, Anani Yavashev, Veliko Stoyanov, Nikolai Urumov, Vesselin Rankov, Rangel Vulchanov.
(Bulgarian, Turkish dialogue)

A black chapter in recent Bulgarian history is explored more with righteous sympathy than real power in "Stolen Eyes," a promising movie that tries to blend too many disparate elements. While ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia was making headlines, Bulgaria's last communist rulers were forcing ethnic Turks to give up their identities. Pic follows a young Muslim widow -- the excellent Vessela Kazakova ("Mila from Mars") -- and the Bulgarian soldier who's smitten with her. Having won best Bulgarian feature award at the Sofia fest, pic could garner some fest exposure, despite its several flaws.

In the late '80s, Bulgarian strongman Todor Zhivkov declared a program of "national regeneration," in which the substantial Turkish minority was forced to change names, forbidden to show outward signs of ethnicity and outlawed from speaking Turkish. Anyone not complying was escorted to the border, which is at first open, then closed by the Turks due to swelling refugee camps. This is where "Stolen Eyes" begins, in 1989, with Aiten (Kazakova) and her brother, Halil (Nejat Isler), waiting to cross into Turkey.

Film then flashes back to soon after the laws have been announced. Young Bulgarian soldier Ivan (Valeri Yordanov) is put in charge of the official seals needed to certify name changes on newly issued identity cards. Aiten, a teacher, pretends to seduce Ivan in order to steal the seals, but he disarms her and in the process becomes fascinated by her courage and conviction.

Determined to continue protesting the government's identity rape, Aiten forcibly reopens a mosque and leads a group of women to block the army from entering the village. Ivan is the reluctant driver of the tank, and tragedy strikes when Aiten's daughter gets lost in the crowd and falls under the tank treads.

Traumatized Ivan is put in an institution, where he obsessively paints Aiten's eyes. She, too, is in the same hospital, but is unwilling to encourage the relationship he desires. After being discharged, Aiten is joined by her brother, and they head for the Turkish border, where the narrative began. But there's still one more stanza of the drama left to play.

Pic is at its best in early scenes showing the profound humiliation of people whose identities are literally effaced from the record. In later reels, director Spassov wastes way too much footage on silly scenes in the psychiatric institution, plus some discordantly light sequences near the end.

Still, performances are faultless. Yordanov, previously seen to advantage in "Emigrants," here shows great sensitivity as the hesitant young soldier whose deep humanity leaves him unshielded from the horrors he's forced to perpetrate. Similarly, Kazakova is both touching and fierce as the defiant woman determined to keep her name and traditions. Better known as a d.p., helmer Spassov shows an eye for artistic compositions, and lensing by Plamen Somov is always attractive.

Camera (color), Plamen Somov; editors, Boyka Popova, Evgenya Tasseva; music, Bozhidar Petkov; production designer, Georgi Todorov; costume designer, Boryana Semerdjieva. Reviewed at Sofia Film Festival (Balkan Screenings), March 11, 2005. Running time: 107 MIN.

Review | Egg by Derek Elley

Egg (Turkey-Greece)By DEREK ELLEY

A Kaplan Film (Turkey)/Inkas Film (Greece) production. (International sales: Coach 14, Paris.) Produced by Semih Kaplanoglu, Lilette Botassi. Directed by Semih Kaplanoglu. Screenplay, Kaplanoglu, Orcun Koksal.

With: Nejat Isler, Saadet Isil Aksoy, Ufuk Bayraktar, Tulin Ozen, Gulcin Santircioglu, Kaan Karabacak, Semra Kaplanoglu.

After his Nuri Bilge Ceylan Lite exercise, "Angel's Fall," Turkish writer-helmer Semih Kaplanoglu retreats into a far less elegaic universe with third feature "Egg." Faux metaphysical snoozeroo, centered on a poet returning to his village after his mother's death, is pure fest fare for the long-take, minimalist crowd.

Reaching his family home, Yusuf (Nejat Isler) meets his brother's granddaughter, Ayla (Saadet Isil Aksoy), who'd looked after his mom, Zehra (Semra Kaplanoglu). Ayla asks Yusuf to perform the sacrifice of a ram his mom had never been able to, so at the hour mark, the pair set off in his jalopy, overnighting at a hotel where a wedding reception is taking place. On the way back, Yusuf asks Ayla why his mother wanted the sacrifice. "I don't know," she replies. That night, Yusuf is prevented from leaving the village by a huge, slobbering, ornery mutt. Technically O.K. pic is the first in a trilogy, "Honey, Milk and Egg," which the helmer is (natch) presenting in reverse order. "For me, filmmaking is an entirely metaphysical and philosophical endeavor," writes Kaplanoglu in the pic's press notes. Some content would be nice, too.

Camera (Fujicolor), Ozgur Eken; editor, Ayhan Ergursel, Kaplanoglu, Suzan Hande Guneri; art director, Naz Erayda. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors' Fortnight), May 22, 2007. Original Turkish title: Yumurta. Turkish dialogue. Running time: 98 MIN.

Times and Winds | Bes Vakit by Reha Erdem

Times and Winds | Bes Vakit | Turkey, 2006, 110 min, 35mm
In Turkish with English subtitles

Directed By: Reha ErdemPROD: Ömer Atay
SCR/ED: Reha Erdem
CAM: Florent Henry
Cast: Özkan Özen, Ali Bey Kayali, Elit Iscan, Bülent Emin Yarar, Taner Birsel
This magical film is a haunting portrait of the tensions that lie beneath the seemingly placid surface of a remote, beautiful and rugged mountain village perched between sea and sky, untouched by the modern world. The director's fourth feature recounts the dreams and desires of villagers whose simple lives are regulated by the calls to prayer that divide the day (and the film) into five sections (the Turkish title literally translates as "five times"). The main characters are three youngsters, two boys and a girl living in this harsh, strictly disciplined culture, where both animals and children are frequently beaten. In subtle touches, the picture deals with the early sexual awakening of the three, their communion with nature and revolt against their parents. Omar, the imam's son, fantasizes about killing his father. He collects scorpions, hoping they will do the job for him. Omar's best friend Yakup has fallen in love with the beautiful schoolteacher and turns against his own father when he discovers that his dad is a Peeping Tom who has been spying on the young woman Yakup worships. The girl, Yildiz, is obliged to mother her baby brother, while her budding sexuality is troubled after she witnesses her parents making love. Erdem's lyrical and meditative film is visually stunning, shot by his talented regular director of photography Florent Henry and with an extraordinary score by Arvo Pärt. Times and Winds walked off with the two main prizes at the 25th Istanbul International Film Festival--Best Turkish Film and FIPRESCI awards.”--Elliot Stein, Tribeca Film Festival

With a remarkable attention to the vicissitudes of life in a remote Turkish village; director Reha Erdem captures the delicate transition between childhood and adulthood, as three young friends explore the fraught territory of love, lust and death. A humanist-pastoral epic in the tradition of Pudovkin.--LA Weekly

Print Source |Film Contact
Claudine Avetyan
Atlantik Film
Ust Zerren sokak no:2
1. Levent 34330,
Phone: (90.212) 278.3611
Fax: (90.212) 278.1971
Web Site:

Review | The Edge of Heaven by Derek Elley

The Edge of Heaven
Auf der anderen seite
[EDGEO] Special Presentations

Germany , Turkey, 2007, 122 min, 35mm
In Turkish, German with English subtitles

Directed By: Fatih Akin
PRODS: Andreas Thiel, Klaus Maeck, Fatih Akin
SCR: Fatih Akin
CAM: Rainer Klausmann
ED: Andrew Bird
MUS: Shantel
Cast: Nurgül Yesilçay, Baki Davrak, Patrycia Ziolkowska, Nursel Köse, Hanna Schygulla
There may be no more exciting filmmaker working today than Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin. Winner of the best screenplay award at Cannes earlier this year, this superbly cast drama limns the emotional arcs of six people--four Turks and two Germans--as they crisscross. In Germany, retired widower Ali seeks a solution to his loneliness in the arms of a prostitute, Yeter, who's also a Turkish national. Meanwhile, Yeter's daughter, a political activist on the run, has come to Germany to find her mother. Alone and penniless, she's befriended by Lotte, who invites her into her home, despite the disapproval of her own mother. What happens to these four lives can only be summed up with one word: tragedy.

Akin sets up these characters, and their interrelations, and watches the chips fall as they may. It adds up to a tumultuous and heartbreaking illustration of the looseness of the ties that bind, and just how fast they can unravel before our very eyes. If you liked Babel, you will love The Edge of Heaven.

"The point at which a good director crosses the career bridge to become an international talent is vividly clear in The Edge of Heaven, an utterly assured, profoundly moving fifth feature by Fatih Akin... [The film] takes the German-born Turkish writer-director's ongoing interest in two seemingly divergent cultures to a humanist level that's way beyond the grungy romanticism of his 2003 Head On or the dreamy dramedy of In July (2000)..."--Derek Elley, Variety

Bliss | Mutluluk by Abdullah Oguz 2007

Bliss |Mutluluk Greece , Turkey, 2007, 105 min, 35mm
Directed By: Abdullah Oguz
PROD/SCR: Abdullah Oguz
CAM: Mirsad Herovic
EDS: Levent Celebi-LewQ, Abdullah Oguz
MUS: Zülfü Livaneli
Cast: Talat Bulut, Özgü Namal, Murat Han, Mustafa Avkiran, Emin Gursoy
When a young woman named Meryem (Özgü Namal) is raped, her village custom requires that she be killed in order for the dishonour to be expunged from her family. A young man named Cemal (Murat Han), the son of the village leader, is given the task but at the last moment he has doubts. The pair go on the run, followed close behind by local thugs intent on killing the girl. Luckily enough, Cemal and Meryem meet up with a charismatic man named Irfan, an ex-university professor who is embarking on a sailing trip, and needs a crew. Seems Irfan is running away too--in his case from a dead marriage and an empty life. Together this unlikely trio set forth on a voyage that will change all of their lives.

Adapted from Zülfü Livaneli's international best-selling novel, director Abdullah Oguz's drama is filled with intensity, vivid cultural clash, fine music and some absolutely stunning scenery (the film was shot on the Sea of Marmara). But ultimately it is the figure of Meryem, a young woman struggling to live in a culture that condones the practice of female honour killings, that gives the film its heart. Meryem's decision to live, and ultimately, to enjoy her life is the quiet revolution that ignites the entire story.

Abdullah Oguz Filmography:
The Ivy Mansion--Life (2003),
Jailbirds (2005)"

Print Source | Hakan Karademir
ANS Productions
Tesvikiye Vaddesi Tesvikiye Palas Apt 107/6
Istanbul, 34365
Phone: (90212) 259-7785
Fax: (90212) 227.5637
Email: Web Site:

Sales Contact
Federica Mei
Via Eustachio Manfredi, 15
00197 Rome,
Phone: (39.06) 807 6157
Fax: (39.06) 807 6156
Web Site:

Vancouver IFF | Turkish Films

The 26th annual Vancouver International Film Festival will be held September 27 - October 12, 2007. Three Turkish Films are in the programme. VIFF was founded in 1982.

Alan Franey:Festival Director |PoChu AuYeung |Program Manager

Bliss | Mutluluk by Abdullah Oguz

Times and Winds | Bes Vakit by Reha Erdem

The Edge of Heaven by Fatih Akin

Print Source |Film Contact (Canadian Dist.)
Tom Alexander
Mongrel Media
1028 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M6J 1H6
Phone: (416) 516 9775 x227
Fax: (416) 516 0651
Web Site:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Akın's ‘Edge of Heaven' to run for foreign Oscar

Akın's ‘Edge of Heaven' to run for foreign Oscar
Turkish-born German filmmaker Fatih Akın's latest feature "Auf Der Anderen Seite" (The Edge of Heaven) was named as the German entry to compete for the best foreign language film award in next year's Oscars.

The German film body, which selected the film to represent Germany at the 80th edition of the Academy Awards in February, announced its decision on Tuesday. A nine-member independent jury of film experts at German Films, the national information and advisory center for the promotion of German cinema worldwide, chose "The Edge of Heaven" from among seven productions.

Akın said he was extremely pleased to be selected to represent Germany in the Oscars. "The Edge of Heaven," starring Nurgül Yeşilçay, Baki Davrak, Tuncel Kurtiz and Hanna Schygulla in its leading roles, centers on a generation of immigrants caught between two cultures in Turkey and Germany. "The Edge of Heaven" brought the young filmmaker the best screenplay award earlier this year at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, where it also had its world premiere.

The film, which also won the Ecumenical Jury Award in Cannes, is the second installment in Akın's of trilogy about love, death and evil. His 2004 Golden Bear winner "Head On" was the first installment, portraying love, and "The Edge of Heaven" shows death. Akın has yet to make the third installment, which will illustrate evil. "The Edge of Heaven" will have its Turkey debut on Oct. 26. The 80th edition of the Academy Awards is scheduled to take place Feb. 24, 2008.

Turkish business bounces back

Turkish business bounces back
Government funding boosts film industry

Two years after the Turkish Ministry of Culture announced it would begin to provide serious funding for the Turkish film industry, the results are evident, with nearly 40 feature films produced over the past year and 34 released, capturing 51.7 % of the total Turkish box office.

This is a huge increase over the usual annual production of 20 or so films five years ago, of which half would be lucky to be released. The numbers have been steadily growing, with 27 Turkish films released in 2005 and 17 released in 2004.

While the 17 million Turkish Lira ($12.5 million) invested annually by the Ministry of Culture may not be much by international standards, it's an important boost for Turkish films, where budgets average between $500,000 and $1 million.

The production of quality art films like Semih Kaplanoglu's "Egg," a Turkish-Greek co-production, is rising as a result of this funding.

"Egg," which also received Eurimage support, is part of a trilogy being shot by Kaplanoglu. "Milk" and "Honey" are still to come, with "Milk," which has also received backing from the World Cinema Fund in Berlin, due to start shooting in autumn."The budget for 'Egg' was very low, about $500,000, so the funding from the Ministry of Culture and Eurimage was very important," said Kaplanoglu at the Istanbul Film Festival. "I work with only one professional actor. I guess the technique is similar to Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who works with non-professionals. Nuri opened doors for Turkish film throughout the world. Now festival selectors really look at our films."

Ceylan's "Climates" won the prize for best Turkish film at this year's Istanbul Film Fest as well as a competition slot in Cannes last year. Ceylan was one of the first to receive funding under the new government initiative that stipulates films that win international prizes or slots in A-class international film festivals do not have to pay back their grant money.

While art films are bringing kudos internationally for Turkey, the local box office continues to be dominated by commercially successful local productions.

Commercial projects can also receive Ministry of Culture support in the form of loans that must be repaid out of box office receipts, but producers like BMK, which scored a hit with Cem Yilmaz vehicle "The Magician," opt to finance projects themselves.

The top four films for 2006 were all Turkish, following a trend that began five years ago. Topping the 2006 box office was the anti-Iraq war "Valley of the Wolves," directed by Sedar Akar and Sadullah Senturk, with $20 million; followed by "The Class of Chaos," directed by Ferdi Egilmez, with $9.4 million and distributed by Ozen Film; Yilmaz's "The Magician," with $9.3 million, and a new comedy, "The Exam," by Omer Faruk Sorak who directed the hit "G.O.R.A.," with $5.7 million.

Friday, September 07, 2007

REES-465 | I Lost It at a Turkish Movie

NEW ...NEW ...Film Notes 1-12

Plus Modern/Postmodern Philosophy and Film Theory (click to download 11x17 chart in PDF)

Click on the image to download the latest PDF of the information chart
Click to get a PDF of Turkish Cinema History 1897-2006

The Ten Best Turkish Films of All Time (2003 Poll)


LECTURE (David Cuthell) WED 4:15-6:05 ICC 205B
SCREENING (Erju Ackman) TUE 6:15-8:15PM ICC 118

Week 1. Introduction. Modern Turkey before the collapse of the Soviet Union

Week 2. Nationalism, Poverty and Oppression in the 1970’s:
Film: Yol
(click for synopsis)
Yilmaz Guney Bio
An Interview with Omer Kavur: Constructing a Cinema of the City
Omer Kavur; Miriam Rosen Middle East Report, No. 160, Turkey in the Age of Glasnost. (Sep. - Oct., 1989), pp. 19-21.

Week 3. Honorable Bandits and the Big City:
Film: Eşkiya
(click for synopsis) Yavuz Turgul Bio
Old Culture-New Culture: A Study of Migrants in Ankara, Turkey
Ned Levine Social Forces, Vol. 51, No. 3. (Mar., 1973), pp. 355-368.

Week 4. Constructed Ties and the Quality of Mercy:
Film: Tabutta Röveşata

Interview with Dervis Zaim on Somersault in a Coff...
Tabutta Rovasata
Somersault in a Coffin 1996

Review:Somersault in a Coffin (1997)

Derviş Zaim Bio (1964- )

Week 5. Imagined Communities and Boundaries:
Film: Bulutlari Beklerken

Yesim USTAOGLU Bio ( 1960- )
Interview with Yesim Ustaoglu on Waiting for the C...
Waiting for The Clouds (6:32 min. clip)
Waiting for The Clouds Film Poster

Week 6. Village Life: Family Ties:
Film: Beş Vakıt
Poster and a review
More Reviews

Week 7 Turks as Euro-Citizens?: The Lives of Women

Film: Oyun Official website Information

Week 8 Art and Social Aspirations:
Film: Karpuz Kabuğundan Gemiler Yapmak

Week 9. Social Equity, Justice and Change:

Film Notes 8
Official website Information

Week 10 Democracy, Law and Central Authority: Koker; Local Politics and Democracy in Turkey. Keyder; Chs.1-5

Film: Babam ve Oğlum Soundtrack Award Turkish Cinema Newsletter Link

Week 11. On the Road Turkey Today; Fathers and Sons:
Film: Hokkabaz

Week 12 Globalization and the Media:
Film: Head-On
Fatih Akin Interview Fatih Akin Bio German Cinema and immigration
Young Turks of German Cinema
(Download Power Point presentation)
as presented at Goethe Institute in Washington DC

Week 13. Between Two Worlds: Istanbul at the Crossroads:

Film: Crossing the Bridge
Crossing the Bridge

Week 14 Summary. Final Papers due.

Contemporary Turkey Politics and Culture through the Constructed Lens of Cinema

Fall 2007

Turkey today is a nation of seventy three million people occupying a space on the globe that is squarely in the middle of East and West. The Turkish economy has been one of the world’s top performers during the past five years. Literacy among the young is universal and contemporary Turks are connected to their peers and the outside world through cell phones, the internet as well as the traditional media. The result has been an explosion of creative energy in art, music and especially in film. Turkish film is in the vanguard of the many societal debates of the present, the role of Islam, women’s rights, economic and social justice and the question of weather or not Turkey is of the East or the West to name a few.

This course will examine a series of Turkish films in an effort to explore the many issues and debates in Turkish society. It will aim to strip away the constructed artifice of the directors and examine the social and political debates that underlie these works. To do so the course will also involve a series of readings that will examine film and film criticism as well as those that will supply a contemporary and historical background of Turkey.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Zeki Demirkubuz at Walter Reade Theater

Mental Minefields: The Dark Tales of Zeki Demirkubuz | September 19 – 24, 2007

This series contains seven of Zeki Demirkubuz’s feature films, including the “Tales of Darkness” trilogy (Fate, Confession and The Waiting Room) that for many constitutes the core of his achievement. On Saturday, September 22, at 3pm in the Walter Reade Theater there will be an onstage discussion on director Zeki Demirkubuz and Turkish cinema. This panel discussion is free with the purchase of a ticket to any film in the Mental Minefields series.

Walter Reade Theater

Block-C / C Blok Turkey, 1994; 90m |Wed Sep 19: 9:00 | Sat Sep 22: 1:00
Confession / Itiraf Turkey, 2001; 100m|Wed Sep 19: 6:30 | Sat Sep 22: 7:00
Destiny / Kader Turkey/Greece, 2006; 103m NY Premiere |Fri Sep 21: 6:15 | Sun Sep 23: 8:15
Fate / Yazgi Turkey, 2001; 119m |Fri Sep 21: 8:45 | Sun Sep 23: 3:00
Innocence / Masumiyet Turkey, 1997; 105m |Sat Sep 22: 4:45 |Mon Sep 24: 8:00
The Third Page / Üçüncü Sayfa Turkey, 1999; 92m |Sun Sep 23: 1:00 | Mon Sep 24: 6:00
The Waiting Room / Bekleme Odasi Turkey, 2003; 88m |Sat Sep 22: 9:15 | Sun Sep 23: 6:00

Traditionally, film critics have made a sharp distinction between a cinema of cold, hard reality and a cinema of an interior, mental world inflected by fantasy and invention—the Lumière brothers and Méliès as the perpetually warring fathers of the medium. Zeki Demirkubuz is one of the contemporary filmmakers who most makes a lie of that hollow distinction. Together with Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Yesim Ustaoglu and a handful of others, Demirkubuz has been leading a revolution in Turkish cinema for the past decade. Born in Isparta in 1964, he was politically engaged at an early age, even spending a term in jail during the end of his teenage years.

After studies at Istanbul University, he came to the cinema as an assistant to director Zeki Okten, who he has often credited as his mentor. Demirkubuz established a strong, personal style right from his debut feature, Block-C. A powerful exploration of a woman whose marriage is falling apart, the film moves freely between the perceptual world and the world of the woman’s fears and desires. The cool look of the modern apartment complex where the film is set makes an effective counterpoint to the emotions raging beneath his character’s seemingly placid surface.

The burden of realism, especially for non-Western filmmakers, is often so strong that characters are reduced to social archetypes and understood as products or reflections of their environments. Demirkubuz’s characters could never be seen as such. His protagonists all have astonishingly rich, varied and at times frightening personal psychologies, yet one never feels that their inner worlds are completely divorced from the external circumstances of their lives––or even their experiences in reality.

The series is co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, ArteEast and the Moon and Stars Project in collaboration with Altyazi. Mental Minefields: The Dark Tales of Zeki Demirkubuz has been made possible by generous grants from Turkish Cultural Foundation and the American Turkish Society. Additional support has been provided by Turkish Kitchen, FedEx Turkey, Ramerica International, Inc. and Turkish Culture and Tourism Office.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Turkish film wins Sarajevo film festival award

Turkish film wins Sarajevo film festival award

Reuters |Sunday, August 26, 2007; 8:53 AM |By Daria Sito-Sucic

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - A Turkish film about fear overwhelming a true believer when he is caught up in religious corruption has been chosen as the best movie at the 13th Sarajevo Film Festival.The jury, headed by British actor Jeremy Irons, awarded "A Man's Fear of God" (Takva) by director Ozer Kiziltan with the 25,000 euros ($33,920) Heart of Sarajevo award at the closing ceremony on Saturday night.The film tells the story of a strict Muslim whose solitary life changes when a powerful religious group recruit him as a rent collector, throwing him into the modern outside world.The new job puts his devotion to the test and the fear of God starts to drive him mad.

"When you think of fear, when fear brings you close to losing your mind, it's just as if the fear eats away at your soul," said Fatih Akin, the Turkish-born German co-producer of the film receiving the award on behalf of the crew."We didn't expect that (award)," Akin said, explaining the absence of the film's authors who had already left Sarajevo.

Turkish films dominated the festival with three competing at the Balkan's largest film forum for the first time this year.Saadet Isil Aksoy was awarded the best actress for her role in "Egg" by Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu.

Macedonian film "I'm from Titov Veles" by Teona Strugar-Mitevska won the special jury award.U.S. actor Steve Buscemi was honoured for "outstanding contribution to the art of cinema and the support to the development of the Sarajevo Film Festival."The festival showed over 170 features and short and documentary films during the past seven days. Big industry names, such as French Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche and U.S. documentary director Michael Moore, also presented their latest films.Moore's "SiCKO" about the U.S. health system and American greed closed the festival, with the director promising the 3,000-strong applauding audience to work to prevent the horrors of the Bosnian war happening elsewhere again.The Sarajevo Film Festival was launched near the end of the 1992-95 war as an act of resistance by a group of enthusiasts. It grew into the biggest regional film competition.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A new season for Turkish cinema

Veterans, newcomers, all set for full new season in Turkish cinema
Although there has been a visible rise in recent years in the number of films produced by the Turkish cinema industry, these figures are not the sole measure in evaluating the progress made in Turkish film.

There will be numerous fresh faces and filmmakers having their names run for the first time on the silver screen when the new movies of the upcoming season make their debut in theaters from September. Of course, already well-known directors work hard too. Here is a summary of Turkish productions of the upcoming season:
Movies being anticipated with curiosity

"Kabadayı" (Bully) by Ömer Vargı: Featuring screenplay by Yavuz Turgul, the film stars both veterans and young actors such as Şener Şen, Kenan İmirzalıoğlu, İsmail Hacıoğlu and Ruhi Sarı. The movie, which recounts the story of an old bully who has to fight the mafia for his son, will open Dec. 14.

"Yumurta" (Egg) by Semih Kaplanoğlu: Starring Nejat İşler, Saadet Işıl Aksoy, Ufuk Bayraktar, Tülin Özen, Gülçin Santırcıoğlu and Kaan Karabacak, the movie is about a poet who returns to his homeland years later upon his mother's death.

"Mülteci" (Refugee) by Reis Çelik: The movie, set to open on Sept. 21, centers on the story of a youngster who escaped to Germany in fear for his life. Derya Durmaz and Haluk Piyes play the leading roles.

"Rıza" by Tayfun Pirselimoğlu: The film will open on Oct. 26. Starring famed actors Rıza Akın, Nurcan Eren, Turgay Tanülkü, Menderes Samancılar and İstar Gökseven, the storyline follows the experiences of a truck driver from Adana during his brief stay at a hotel in the small town of Küçükpazar.

"Yaşamın Kıyısında" (The Edge of Heaven) by Fatih Akın: Winner of the best screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival, the film will finally open in Turkish theaters on Oct. 26. Starring Nurgül Yeşilçay, Tuncel Kurtiz, Baki Davrak and Hana Schygulla, the film revolves around the stories of six people whose lives intersect with a death.

"Ulak" (The Messenger) by Çağan Irmak: Irmak's favorite actors Çetin Tekindor, Yetkin Dikinciler, Hümeyra, Şerif Sezer and Feride Çetin star in "Ulak," which is based on a legend set in a vague time and place. Meanwhile, Irmak's debut feature, "Bana Şans Dile" (Wish Me Luck), will open on Oct. 5. Deniz Uğur, Melisa Sözen and İsmail Hacıoğlu star in the movie about a troubled pupil who terrorizes his school.

"Anka Kuşu" (Phoenix) by Mesut Uçakan: Yalçın Dümer, Kenan Bal, Ceren Öztürk and Rahmi Dilligil play the leading roles in the movie which recounts the story of Selman, who starts a new life in İstanbul after losing his family at an early age. The movie underlines the dilemma Selman has to deal with in between the culture he was raised in and the metropolitan culture he has to live in.

"Saklı Yüzler" (Hidden Faces) by Handan İpekçi: With Cem Bender and Füsun Demirel in the title roles, the movie addresses the social issue of "honor killings" and will open on Nov. 23.

"Hicran Sokağı" (Grievance Street) by Safa Önal: The movie, which brings veterans of Turkish cinema such as Türkan Şoray, Cüneyt Arkın, Hülya Koçyiğit and young thespians Arda Esen, Ahu Türkpençe and Pelin Batu together on the silver screen, will open on Dec. 7.

"Ara" (Ambivalence) by Ümit Ünal: The film, where fresh faces Erdem Akakçe, Betül Çobanoğlu, Serhat Tutumluer and Selen Uçer play the leading roles, centers on the relationships between four characters throughout their 10-year friendship.

"Şanjan" (Opalescence) by Aydın Sayman: The director tells a complex love story between a pretty young girl, an old man and a handsome young man. Berk Hakman, Çetin Öner, Seyven Katırcıoğlu and Aykut Oray play the leading roles.

"Suna" by Engin Ayça: Türkan Şoray, Gülsen Tuncer and Demir Karahan play the title roles in the film, which recounts the events that four friends -- two girls and two boys from the '68 generation -- go through in the 2000s.
Feature-length debuts

"Sacayağı" (Trivet) by Berrin Dağçınar: Starring Zeki Alasya, Tarık Pabuççuoğlu and Haldun Boysan, the film tells the story of a sick boy, the son of one of three close friends.

"Zeynep'in Sekiz Günü" (Eight Days of Zeynep) by Cemal Şan: Fadik Sevin Atasoy, Fırat Tanış and Sinan Albayrak star in the film that delves into issues such as alienation, love, loneliness and despair.

"İki Çizgi" (Two Lines) by Selim Evci: Gülçin Santırcıoğlu and Haluk Piyes play the leading roles in the film, which underlines the difference between the male and female identities; the action takes place in a metropolitan city and the story becomes a sad one.

"Fikret Bey" (Mr. Fikret) by Selma Köksal: The film, which was first screened at the İstanbul International Film Festival, depicts a day in the life of the bankrupt Fikret Bey. The movie in which Erol Keskin, Fuat Onan and Gökçe Algan play the lead roles will open in movie theaters on Nov. 16.

"Sıfır Dediğimde" (When I Say Zero) by Gökhan Yorgancıgil: Famous thespians Oktay Kaynarca, Hazım Körmükçü, Görkem Yeltan and Semih Sergen act in this film based on a story of the weird behavior exhibited by a young girl under hypnosis. The movie will open on Nov. 2.

"Kiralık Oda" (Room for Rent) by Murat Ergün: First-time feature film director Ergün is also featured in the cast, along with actors Tamer Karadağlı, Olgun Şimşek and Mehmet Ali Alabora. The film, which will open Jan. 4, depicts the incidents that happen in a room rented by a man who wants to make a fresh start to his life.

"Musallat" (Haunt) by Alper Mestçi: Both written and directed by Mestçi, this movie featuring Burak Özçivit, Biğkem Karavus and Kurtuluş Şakirağaoğlu in the title roles, is about creatures that haunt characters Suat and Nurcan. The film opens Nov. 16.

"Beyaz Melek" (White Angel) by Mahsun Kırmızıgül: Arabesque singer Kırmızıgül tries his hand at directing with this film starring veterans Erol Günaydın, Emel Sayın, Müşfik Kenter and Gazanfer Özcan. Details of the plot for the movie have been kept strictly under wraps, but rumors say it will include lessons for the young generation.

"İki Koca Adam Bir Küçük Bebek" (Two Big Men, One Little Baby) by Hasan Kırcı: The movie, starring Ali Başar, Kadim Yaşar and Nilüfer Aydan, tells the story of two men who grew up on the streets and their relations with kids who now experience similar lives.

"İyi Seneler Londra" (Happy New Year, London) by Berkun Oya: Ülkü Duru, Denis Lavant, Ali Atay, Zuhal Olcay and Hugh Hayes star in this film which depicts the coincidences famous singer Yaşar Nur runs into in London.

"Kutsal Damacana" (Sacred Demijohn) by Ahmet Yılmaz: Famed comedians Şafak Sezer, Settar Tanrıöğen and Erdal Tosun will star in the film which has a screenplay written by the popular comedians of the humor magazine LeMan, hinting at how hilarious the film will be. The film opens Dec. 21.

"Kara Toprak" (Black Earth) by Tarık Akan: İsmail Hacıoğlu, Deniz Sezer, Halil Ergün and Müşfik Kenter assume the title roles in this film which centers on the story of a revolutionary young girl and a pianist with a backdrop of the military coup of Sept. 12, 1980.

"Gitmek" (To Go) by Hüseyin Karabey: Based on a true story with real characters, the movie recounts the reunion story of northern Iraqi Kurd Hama Ali and thespian Ayça, who lives in İstanbul; both play themselves in the movie.

Upcoming productions by prolific directors

Hasan Karacadağ is currently working on a new movie titled "Semum" following his 2006 horror film "Dabbe." The film, starring Burak Hakkı, Ayça İnci, Nazlı Ceren Argon and Cem Kurtoğlu, tells of extraordinary creatures that possess the body of a woman.

Director Biray Dalkıran will narrate the story of a mentally ill youngster in "Cennet" (Heaven), where Engin Altan Düzyatan, Zeynep Pabuçcuoğlu, Fahriye Evcen and Mehmet Birkiye play the leading roles. Ulaş Ak will present his latest film "Avrupalı" (The European) to moviegoers on Oct. 12. The movie, starring Cem Davran, Yasemin Kozanoğlu, Sema Öztürk and Aydemir Akbaş, is a comic take on Turkey's Europeanization process, told via the relationship between a Greek and a Turkish family.

Independant filmmakers Reha Erdem, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Zeki Demirkubuz and the team of Yeni Sinemacılar (New Moviemakers) are also working on new projects while Derviş Zaim is continuing with his new movie "Nokta" (The Dot), about the art of calligraphy.

Ömer Uğur is currently busy forming the cast for his upcoming prison drama called "Firar" (Escape). Meanwhile Sinan Çetin has secretly completed filming on a movie called "Yankee Go Home," but the film's opening date is still undetermined.

Two films recounting the life story of Sufi saint and poet Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi are in the works. One of them is expected to open on Nov. 16 with screenplay by Ömer Lütfi Mete and direction by Kürşat Kızbaz. The other Mevlana movie, slated to open Dec. 14, is co-directed by Sinan Çetin and Fatih Aksoy and stars Kenan Işık in the title role. A film recounting the tragedies of Turkish soldiers who froze to death during the Sarıkamış campaign in World War I is expected to start filming in January and will star Özcan Deniz, Fikret Kuşkan and Altan Erkekli in leading roles.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Head On | Sight and Sound Review

Dark Passion

Sex, suicide, romantic abandon and hard rock collide in Head-On, Fatih Akin's electrifying exploration of the changing dynamics of German-Turkish identity. Asuman Suner on the critical hit of 2004

After it took the top prizes at the 54th Berlinale and the 2004 European Film Awards, German/Turkish director Fatih Akin's Head-On (Gegen die Wand) was claimed by Germany and Turkey alike. German newspapers talked of "German cinema" winning Berlin's Golden Bear for the first time in 18 years, while the Turkish press celebrated the "great victory" of "a Turkish film-maker". It was not difficult, however, to detect a sense of discomfort amid the applause. Head-On, after all, resists easy assimilation into the existing matrix of cultural stereotypes, and it is perhaps for this reason that most of the media coverage in both countries focused not so much on the film itself as on 'juicy' controversies involving the performers, notably lead actress Sibel Kekilli's previous appearances in porn videos.

But then Head-On is not an easy film to pin down. Audiences seem to find it deeply disturbing, perhaps because it draws on cultural tropes that co-exist in an eclectic and volatile disorder. Head-On arguably belongs to a sub-genre that could be called the 'hardcore love story', a group of films whose mood is different from that of either romance or melodrama, despite some shared themes. There is always a doomed affair at the centre of such movies, but what transforms this commonplace into something extraordinary here is Head-On's elusive atmosphere - an affective intensity, a concentration of desire and passion conveyed with utter conviction. The 'hardcore love story' category might absorb such disparate titles as Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (1972), Fassbinder's Sirkian (anti)melodrama Fear Eats the Soul (1974), Ettore Scola's costume drama Passion of Love (1981) and Wong Kar-Wai's Happy Together (1997). Head-On joins them less because of its storyline than because of its haunting tone.

Female hedonism

Like Fatih Akin himself, the film's two protagonists are members of the second generation of Turkish immigrants in Germany. Cahit (Birol Ünel) is a middle-aged loner who has a job collecting glasses in a rock club and spends the rest of his time fuelled by heavy doses of hard rock, alcohol and cocaine. At the film's beginning, after a night spent at a bar, he drives his car at full speed into a wall. In hospital he meets Sibel (Sibel Kekilli), an attractive young woman who has also tried to kill herself. After a brief encounter in the doctor's waiting room, Sibel rushes after Cahit and asks him to marry her.

Despite Cahit's initial refusal, it is obvious he is attracted to Sibel and will eventually say yes. She is desperate to escape the authority of her father and the brother who, we learn, broke her nose after seeing her with a boy. She chooses Cahit because he is Turkish, which means her family will accept him, but also because his cool looks suggest he will be unlikely to stop her from pursuing the independence she craves. After a series of farcical scenes of pre-nuptial arrangements, they marry. Sibel takes advantage of her new-found freedom from day one, storming out during a quarrel about Cahit's former wife and spending the night with a guy she meets in a bar.

One refreshing element of Head-On is its non-judgemental attitude to its female protagonist's appetite for hedonism. What might otherwise be perceived as banal promiscuity is rendered here as a sincere and naive passion for living life to the full. The film conveys the sheer enjoyment Sibel derives from having her belly-button pierced, putting on sexy clothes, dancing at clubs, and sleeping with men she likes the look of. Meanwhile a subtle attraction builds between Sibel and Cahit, thwarted by a fundamental obstacle. Sibel cannot make love with Cahit, she explains, because this would make her truly his wife, so jeopardising her cherished independence.

This state of affairs is abruptly interrupted when Cahit unintentionally kills one of Sibel's boyfriends after he has made insulting remarks about her. The mood of the film darkens as Cahit is imprisoned and Sibel recognises, at the very moment she loses him, how much she has been in love with Cahit: an instance of, to borrow cultural theorist Walter Benjamin's phrase, "love at last sight". As she mourns their relationship, she also realises that her brother might try to kill her to save the 'family honour'. Before escaping to Istanbul, she pays a visit to Cahit; in their first truly intimate moment, she tells him she will wait for him.

Postcards of Istanbul

In Istanbul we see a different Sibel. She cuts off her beautiful long hair and dons shabby, masculine clothes. Her expression is sober and depressed and she seems drained of all her energy and passion. She moves in with her female cousin Selma (Meltem Cumbul), an ambitious middle manager in a big hotel. For a while Sibel adopts a strictly conservative lifestyle, working as a chambermaid during the day and watching television in the evenings. In a letter to Cahit, she writes: "Istanbul is an energetic city full of life. I feel that I am the only lifeless thing in this city." But one night, driven mad by boredom, she walks down to the buzzing Beyoglu district in search of drugs. She soon falls into a self-destructive pattern like the one Cahit followed at the start of the film: now it is Sibel's turn to run, as the German and Turkish titles of the film have it, "against the wall" and crash.

Thus Head-On is divided into two parts: first, a light-hearted Hamburg-set romantic black comedy, then a heavier, Istanbul-set tragedy. But though only the second half of the story actually takes place in Istanbul, images of the Turkish capital pervade the film throughout.

Head-On both begins and ends with a particular shot of the city, and this image also interrupts the narrative several times. At the close of the credits sequence we hear a male voice counting off numbers - "one, two, three, four" - then a postcard-style view of Istanbul fills the screen, with a group of musicians performing traditional Turkish music on the shore of the Golden Horn. The sidewalk is covered by brightly coloured carpets that form a kind of stage and in the background, across the blue waters, rises the dreamy silhouette of a mosque. As the six male musicians, dressed in black suits, play their instruments, a woman in an old-fashioned red dress performs a song. The vision seems to belong to an imaginary past - it could have come from an old album cover - and is both familiar and intimate yet distant and mysterious. An abrupt cut takes us to the bar in Hamburg where Cahit works. Six different songs performed on the same set are inserted at various points in the course of the story: usually we hear the music in the background, then the image appears; after the closing song the musicians salute the audience.

This framing device can be read on one level as a self-reflexive Brechtian strategy serving to remind the audience of the constructed nature of the narrative. This would align Head-On with the films of Fassbinder, in which strategies of disruption and distanciation merge with stories of profound emotional intensity. But at another level the musical sequences direct attention to a deeper layer of meaning, in which Istanbul features not only as a physical counterpart to Hamburg but also as a locus of the imagination that opens up a realm of overlapping sensibilities.

Saved by devastation

Head-On makes use of an assortment of music from hard rock to rap to frame its story, but the majority of its songs come from Turkish popular music. In most scenes the lyrics resonate with the events depicted, and the phrase kara sevda, which can be translated as 'dark passion', forms a persistent refrain. The word sevda, with roots in Persian and Arabic, referred originally to "a dark-coloured fluid that the body produces when one gets sick." It later came to denote intense passionate love: a prevailing theme of fables, music, cinema and poetry, kara sevda is an overwhelming condition experienced almost like an incurable illness, from which the 'victim' can never recover and through which s/he will be forever transformed. But this 'dark passion' also holds the promise of renewed wisdom and deeper insight. It teaches one to be courageous enough to risk everything for love, but also to accept defeat. It inflicts pain, yet supplies the strength to endure it. Kara sevda is both the poison and the remedy.

The bond between Cahit and Sibel is a 'dark passion' of this kind. After his release from prison Cahit meets his friend Seref (Güven Kiraç), who tries to dissuade him from going to Istanbul to seek out Sibel by arguing that she has already ruined his life. Cahit, however, believes he has been saved precisely by the devastation Sibel caused. "Without her," he says, "I could not have survived." And as Cahit and Seref talk, we hear sung in the background the words: "I cannot call you my love, for you are my dark passion."
Singing in tongues

Drawing on diverse cultural influences and _challenging the notion of an authentic or fixed _cultural identity, Head-On poses questions about place, tradition and language. The Turkish-German characters shuttle between languages as the film moves locations; the conversations between Cahit and Sibel are striking more for their broken Turkish than for their accented German. Time and again the switching of languages becomes an ironic, even subversive device. When Sibel is trying to convince Cahit to marry her, they argue loudly in German on a bus empty of other passengers. After Sibel declares that her family will accept Cahit because he's Turkish, the bus stops and the driver, who turns out to be Turkish himself, starts yelling at them in Turkish to get out of his bus since he cannot stand "bastards like [them] who have no respect for their God and religion." Cahit coolly reminds him in German that this is not "his" bus, but it belongs to the municipality. The driver gets increasingly furious.

A reverse scenario occurs in Istanbul when Cahit is looking for Sibel. Hiring a cab at the airport, he doesn't know where to go, so tells the driver to cruise around for a while. The driver asks where he's from and on learning that Cahit originates from Hamburg he delightedly switches to German, explaining that he lived in Munich for several years. Then when Cahit visits Selma and finds her reluctant to help him to track down Sibel, he moves from German to Turkish to try to express his feelings but is unable to do so, as if Turkish were a foreign language (or maybe as if Turkish were not foreign enough). So he switches to English, a language foreign to both of them. Yet during her prison visit, Sibel said in Turkish the words Cahit takes to his heart: "I will wait for you."

Head-On also shuttles between cultural codes. Having grown up in Germany with Turkish parents, the protagonists seem to feel equally (not) at home in either culture, quoting freely from both their Turkish and German cultural heritages. Yet the film presents this not as a problem of non-belonging but rather as an opportunity to construct multiple belongings. Instead of portraying the experience of exile in terms of homelessness and loss, Head-On emphasises its enabling side, what Edward Said called the "plurality of vision" it offers.

Fatih Akin has said that his film has no ambition to "represent" the Turkish minority in Germany. Instead, his protagonists are outsiders, "on a quest to find themselves." They seek to invent a new life, a new morality, and they pay a price for trying to do so. The film ends with the suggestion that for both of them the quest and the passion are ongoing. In the words of one Turkish pop song: "What would remain from the story, if there were not passion?"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Turkish Pop Cinema

Directed by Pete Tombs and Andy Starke / Turkish Pop Cinema