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.