Sunday, January 21, 2007

Variety Review | Ice Cream I Scream

Palm Springs |Ice Cream I Scream |Dondurman Gaymak (Turkey)
A Hermes Film presentation of a Makara Film production. (International sales: Hermes Film, Istanbul.) Produced by Eyup Boz, Tankut Kilinc, Yuksel Aksu. Co-producers, Elif Dagdeviren Guven, Bulent Helvaci.
Directed, written by Yuksel Aksu.

With: Turan Ozdemir, Gulnihal Demir, Ismet Can Suda, Ulas Saribas.

The aim may be Capraesque charm in "Ice Cream I Scream," but the net effect of writer-director Yuksel Aksu's Turkish comedy is the desire that its loud protag -- an insistent and often obnoxious small-town ice cream vendor -- would simply go away. Given Turkey's option of Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Climates" as an Oscar selection, its choice of this minor and poorly shaped bit of whimsy borders on the scandalous. A sure local hit, pic won't sweeten auds anywhere else.

Determined to hold his own against bigger, corporate ice cream outfits peddling artificial bars, Ali (Turan Ozdemir, who does indeed scream most of his lines) is proud of his new TV ad touting his real delicacies in Mediterranean tourist town of Mugla. As he sells his ice cream via bicycle cart in nearby villages, Ali is trailed by Tingoz Kerim (Ismet Can Suda) and his tyke gang of naughty boys. They make off with Ali's cart, leading the nutty vendor to assume that spies from his big competitors are trying to do him in. Much nonsense ensues.

Camera (Safak Film and Video color, DV), Eyup Boz; editor, Sedat Karadeniz; music, BaBaZuLa; production designer, Tan Berk Kurtcebe, Bora Batur, Burcin Batu; sound (Dolby Digital) Suat Alhan; sound designers, Onan Karagozoglu, Jan Peridar. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival (Awards Buzz), Jan. 7, 2007. (Also in Istanbul Film Festival.) Original title: Dondurman gaymak. Running time: 105 MIN.

Variety Review | A Man's Fear of God

Antalya Golden Orange | A Man's Fear of God | Takva (Turkey-Germany)

'A Man's Fear of God'

Ozer Kiziltan's 'A Man's Fear of God' explores the uneasy struggle between spiritual teaching and capitalism.

A Yeni Sinemacilar (Turkey)/Corazon Intl. (Germany) production. (International sales: The Match Factory, Cologne/Munich.) Produced by Sevil Demirci, Onder Cakar, Fatih Akin, Andreas Thiel, Klaus Maeck. Executive producers, Falk H. Nagel, Feridun Koc. Directed by Ozer Kiziltan. Screenplay, Onder Cakar; script supervisor, Fatih Akin.

With: Erkan Can, Meray Ulgen, Guven Kirac, Erman Saban, Settar Tanriogen, Murat Cemcir, Engin Gunaydin, Mufit Aytekin, Oznur Kula, Hakan Gursoytrak.

A richly textured, thoughtful exploration of the hypocrisies inherent when fundamentalists engage in commercial ventures, "A Man's Fear of God" reps a strong new voice in Turkish cinema. Focusing on a simple man whose administrative job within an Islamic sect sets him spinning adrift from his previously unquestioned moral compass, pic benefits from a stand-out central perf and a finely tuned script (supervised by Fatih Akin, whose Corazon Intl. co-produced) that refuses to condescend to anyone. Helmer Ozer Kiziltan's bigscreen debut deservedly bagged the lion's share of prizes at Antalya's national fest; awards are possible off-shore as well.

Muharrem (the superb Erkan Can) is a man of few needs, his life centering on his religion and his job for sack merchant Ali (Settar Tanriogen). His outlook is as limited as his wardrobe, so it comes as a shock when the leader of his religious sect, the Sheik (Meray Ulgen), asks him to become the rent collector for the sect's property-rich seminary.

Muharrem's lack of ambition and worldliness is precisely why he's been chosen. The Sheik and his right-hand man Rauf (Guven Kirac) "suggest" Ali give Muharrem afternoons off so he can collect rents and see to repairs on the many properties the sect owns throughout Istanbul.

It is also "suggested" that Muharrem move into the seminary's building, where he's given suits, a cell phone, and all the accoutrements of a businessman, even a car and driver: "You must reflect the wisdom and the wealth of the Sheik and of the order," Rauf explains. Fish-out-of-water isn't the half of it.

As he adjusts to his new role, Muharrem visibly changes. Whereas before he lived in a timeless world that could equally be 1926 or 2006, now he confidently strides into shopping malls and ultra-modern offices. When his basic goodness tells him to allow a poor family to skip their rent for a month, the Sheik says this might prevent a student from coming to the seminary.

Increasingly confused and plagued by "sinful" recurring wet dreams, Muharrem's previously black-and-white existence becomes filled not just with temptation, but with sophistical debates wrapped in opaque religious finery.

In a world currently extra-sensitive to all treatments of Muslim subjects, it should be added that Kiziltan is clearly criticizing a particular strain of fundamentalism that uses a moral sleight-of-hand to reconcile spiritual teaching with capitalism. His target could just as easily be any religious institution.

What really makes "A Man's Fear of God" stand out is the way Kiziltan enriches his characters through their environment. Muharrem's life was full of familiar, solid traditions linked to office, tea-shop, mosque and home. His plunge into the contempo world reveals the two sides of Istanbul, and the uneasy struggle that exists between them.

As he changes clothes and transforms from near indentured servitude to a position of respect, thesper Can undergoes a visual physical transformation, carrying his body with a new confidence and spontaneously, if uncomfortably, manifesting a forceful confrontational attitude. With heavy-lidded eyes that beautifully register his painful confusion, Can easily won the best actor award in Antalya.

Visuals are rich and multi-dimensional. Akin's regular editor Andrew Bird, along with Niko, do an outstanding job of building tension during a music-filled religious ceremony that hits a fever pitch and then jumps to a most unexpected follow-up.

Camera (color), Soykut Turan; editors, Andrew Bird, Niko ; music, Gokce Akcelik; art director, Erol Tastan; costume designer, Ayten Senyurt; sound (Dolby Digital), Onur Yavuz; associate producers, Alberto Fanni, Flaminio Zadra, Paolo Colombo, Sarmasik Sanatlar, Baran Seyhan; assistant director, Seren Yuce. Reviewed at Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival (competing), Turkey, Sept. 22, 2006. (Also in Toronto Film Festival --- Visions.) Running time: 100 MIN.

Der Lebensversicherer by Bulent Akinci

Der Lebensversicherer / Running on Empty 2006, 100 mins, in German with English subtitles Director: Bulent Akinci, Cast: Jens Harzer, Marina Galic, Anna Maria Mühe, Tom Jahn, Eva Mannschott, Oliver Marlo, Christian Blümel

Awards: Best Actor (Jens Harzer), Special mention and a diploma of The 28th MIFF Jury of the Russian Guild of Film Critics, Moscow International Film Festival 2006; DIALOGUE en Perspective (Bülent Akinci), Berlin International Film Festival 2006
Book your tickets online now!

Running on Empty
Insurance agent Burkhard Wagner (Jens Harzer) has decided not to return home until he has closed enough deals to dig his family out of misery. He turns into the Flying Dutchman of Germany’s motorways, embarks on a year-long odyssey and contact with the family boils down to leaving odd reports on the answering machine. Behind the routine details of an insurance agent’s life meeting his unfortunate customers - most of them déclassé, thrown out by prosperous society – one sees a metaphor. “Closer and closer is the moment when he’ll be able to regain his family, his home and himself. The question remains – where is his home, where is Burkhard himself? Will the endless tape of a road, this lonely ‘life insurer’ is driving along, ever let him go?” (Larisa Malyukova, FIPRESCI). Only after a miraculous encounter with a woman running a roadside motel, he does find peace. A deeper understanding seems to connect them. The hapless landlady tries to open his eyes to reality, but Burkhard is afraid of waking up and takes severe measures to end his apparently endless journey. Director/Writer Bülent Akinci’s first full-length feature Running on Empty is a sombre, desperate and atmospheric road-movie, in which Jens Harzer (also in Hans-Christian Schmid’s Requiem) has brilliantly rendered the state of mind of a hunted down, lost soul.


Born in Ankara on 10.3.1967, he moved to Berlin in 1970. He was a musician, security guard and an insurance salesman before taking final school examinations and studying philosophy, art history, drama and film at the FU in Berlin. He took up studies at the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin in 1996. "Der Lebensversicherer" is his first feature-length drama.

Source: 56. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin (catalogue)


2005/2006 Der Lebensversicherer, Screenplay,Director
2000/2001 Eine kleine Geschichte, Producer,Director
1995 Die letzten Bilder, Director

Aus der Ferne by Thomas Arslan

Aus der Ferne (2006) From Far Away / 89 min. / Color / 35 mm / in German w English sub titles
Written and Directed by: Thomas Arslan ; Director of photography: Thomas Arslan ; Music: Martin Steyer ; Edited by: Bettina Blickwede
Production company: Pickpocket Filmproduktion (Berlin) ZDF/3sat; Producer Thomas Arslan, Inge Classen

"Aus der Ferne" is a personal travelogue, a documentary about a trip through Turkey. Thomas Arslan, who filmed the journey himself, undertook the trip in May/June 2005. The route takes him through Istanbul and Ankara to Gaziantep in the southeastern part of the country, from there further eastwards via Diyarbakir and Van to Dogubayazit near the Iranian border.

The film describes moments during the journey that differ from the usual motifs that inform the image of present-day Turkey – from impressions of day-to-day life in such Western cities as Istanbul and Ankara all the way to regions in the country’s easternmost territory that were locked in battle until recently. "Aus der Ferne" is not a journalistic reportage. The film is not trying to prove anything, but rather to observe. It is the personal look of the filmmaker at this country.

Premiere: 56. Int. Filmfestspiele Berlin 2006, Int. Forum des jungen Films

THOMAS ARSLAN TALKS ABOUT HIS FILM (excerpts from an interview with Michael Baute, on January 3, 2006 in Berlin):

At the time I was shooting the film, the public discussion about Turkey had become quite intense. And it still is. It became almost the major task of the film to avoid immediately landing into the trap associated with the current slogans about Turkey and the stereotypical imagery. Occident, Orient, the West, the East: I can’t associate anything real with these terms. The starting point for the film was to be able to get an impression at all, and not to fall in line with some theory or to illustrate something you thought you already knew. I wanted to keep my eyes open for simple, concrete things in everyday life in this country.

… Before starting, I made two research trips to Turkey. I decided on the route of the journey. We followed this route during the shoot, from west to east. In the major cities of the trip we stayed for a week, although we never filmed for the first day or two. I wanted to first settle in and have a look around. Afterwards, we would make a plan for the following days. This is how we moved along, towards the east.
… Besides myself the crew consisted of a soundman, a director’s assistant, and a driver. I am really happy we were able to shoot on film. I was afraid that if we shot video, I would have gotten lost in the pile of material we could have generated. It actually helped to have to deal with a relatively limited amount of material. Since it made every decision very important, whether to turn the camera on or not. … In the scenes I shot, I tried to influence the situation as little as possible.

… Istanbul was the first stop on the journey. It was clear to me that this was a film which would slowly develop itself, but at the same time I realized that with the first shots I would lay down the path. With the Istanbul sequence the film begins to feel its way forwards. I didn’t want to simply deduce something. The point was to arrive, to be open to discovery. Istanbul is an enormous city, we could have shown many things. The images I chose were a reaction to the typical pictures that exist about Istanbul. For example the tired, old metaphor of the city as a bridge. I tried to disregard images, which have been shown a thousand times, but still to make something from the city visible.

… In the end, with a travel film your stay is always too short, even when you try to take your time. In just a few days, you only get close to a limited number of people. Of course you try, but nevertheless only very few situations arise which allow this to happen. The gaze of the film is a gaze from the outside. The gaze of a traveller passing through. Not to lose sight of this point was important to give the film its form.

Ferien by Thomas Arslan

Ferien (Vacation) 91’
Written and Directed by: Thomas Arslan
Cast:Angela Winkler, Karoline Eichhorn, Uwe Bohm, Gudrun Ritter, Anja Schneider,
Leyla Bobaj, Karoline Eichhorn, Amir Hadzic, Aaron Raabe, Babette Semmer

Synopsis: The film describes the threatening decay of a family, which meets in a remote country house.


""Born on 16.7.1962 in Braunschweig. 1967-71 elementary school in Ankara, Turkey. Returned to Germany In 1971. Studied German Literature and History for a year in Munich. Practical training in film. Studied Film from 1986-92 at the German Film & Television Academy (dffb) in Berlin. He has been working as a writer and filmmaker since 1992.


"Ferien/Vacation" 2007, 35mm, 91 min.
“Aus der Ferne/From Far Away” 2005, 35mm (Blow-up Super 16mm), 89 min.
"Der schöne Tag/A Fine Day" 2001, 35mm, 74 min.
"Dealer" 1998, 35mm, 74 min.
"Geschwister/Kardesler" 1996, 35mm, 82 min.
"Mach die Musik leiser" 1994, 35mm, 87 min.(TV)

Short Films
"Im Sommer - Die sichtbare Welt" 1992, 16mm, 41 min.
"Am Rand“ 1991, 16mm, 24 min.
"19 Portraets" (1990)
"Test 2" (1986), Risse (1989)
"Eine Nacht, Ein Morgen" (1984)

Pickpocket Filmproduktion: Muskauerstraße 10 10997 Berlin Deutschland
T +49 30 69 51 86 01 / F +49 30 69 51 86 02 /

Berlinale World Cinema Fund 2006

Jun 26, 2006:

World Cinema Fund supports films from Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Argentina and Turkey
Five film projects from Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Argentina and Turkey were recommended on June 20 for production funding in the fourth selection round of the World Cinema FundWCF). The jury of the WCF – the independent distributor Isabelle Dubar (France), the curator Keith Shiri (Zimbabwe/England), the programme coordinator of Swiss Television, Alberto Chollet (Switzerland) and Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick - made its selection from 80 submitted projects from 27 countries, awarding a total of 290,000 euros in funding.

Süt (Milk), director: Semih Kaplanoglu (Turkey), KAPLAN FILM PRODUCTION, Istanbul / feature, funding: 50,000 euros
Süt is the second episode of a trilogy. The film portrays a mother-son relationship in the Turkish countryside.

The Light, director: Aktan Arym Kubat (aka: Aktan Abdykalykov) (Kyrgyzstan), OY ART PRODUCTION, Bishkek / feature, funding: 70.000 euros
Through the cinematic themes of “electricity” and “light”, there is a confrontation with the history of Kyrgyzstan, in which the generation of electricity played an important role.

In memoriam | A.I. Bezzerides

A.I. Bezzerides, Turkish born Screenwriter of film noir classics

A.I. Bezzerides, screenwriter of film noir classics "Kiss Me Deadly," "On Dangerous Ground" and "Thieves Highway," died Jan. 1 in Woodland Hills after a brief illness. He was 98.

Bezzerides, known as "Buzz," started as a novelist and short-story writer. He was working for the Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power when Warner Bros. paid $2,000 to turn his 1938 novel "Long Haul" into the 1940 melodrama "They Drive by Night." George Raft and Humphrey Bogart starred as trucker brothers hauling California produce.

It wasn't until after Warner paid him that Bezzerides found out a script based on his book had already been written. The studio nonetheless offered him a seven-year contract to continue writing screenplays, which he eagerly accepted.

He published his second novel, "There Is a Happy Land," in 1942 and did script polishing for Warners during WWII. After leaving Warners, he wrote or co-wrote films including "Beneath the 12-Mile Reef," "Desert Fury," "Sirocco" and "Track of the Cat." At Warners, he became close friends with William Faulkner, another contract writer at the studio.

Bezzerides was best known for "Thieves' Highway," director Jules Dassin's thriller based on Bezzerides' 1949 novel; "On Dangerous Ground," Nicholas Ray's 1952 crime drama; and "Kiss Me Deadly," Robert Aldrich's 1955 crime thriller loosely based on the Mickey Spillane novel.

"He was a working-class writer from the bare-knuckles school of writing," screenwriter Eric Nazarian told the Fresno Bee. "He thought you needed to write reality. He had a love for the truth. When I visited him (recently), he still had ink spots on his fingers."

Later in the 1950s, Bezzerides began working in TV, writing for "Bonanza," "77 Sunset Strip" and "The Virginian." He was co-creator of 1960s Western series "The Big Valley" starring Barbara Stanwyck.

Albert Isaac Bezzerides was born in Samsun, Turkey, and moved to Fresno with his parents before he was 2. He grew up with young William Saroyan and began writing short stories while at UC Berkeley.

He was the subject of two recent documentaries, "The Long Haul of A.I. Bezzerides" in 2005 and "Buzz" in 2006.

Bezzerides was married to film and television writer Silvia Richards until her death in 1999. He is survived by two daughters, a son, a granddaughter and four great-grandchildren.

Source: Variety
Posted: Tue., Jan. 9, 2007