Friday, August 26, 2011

TIFF 2011 | Once Upon A Time in Anatolia

The 36th Toronto International Film Festival
Once Upon A Time in Anatolia | Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

What appears to be on the surface a police procedural film is anything but in Ceylan's hands. As the confessed killer tries to lead the authorities to the place where he buried the body, a series of clues are laid as to what has actually happened.


Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan has made a film that demands great patience, but that patience is magnificently rewarded as the narrative moves toward its conclu­sion. Although the title is a nod to Sergio Leone, Ceylan is very much his own man, determined to create a mythology around a subject that defines an era and a country.

The plot follows the outline of a routine police procedural, but as one would expect from this distinctive filmmaker, Once Upon A Time in Anatolia is far from routine.

A murder has been committed and a man has confessed; all that remains is for him to lead police to the body so they can wrap the case. In the dead of night, two cars and a Jeep carrying the murderer, the police chief and the prosecutor set out to find the burial spot. As the small convoy inches its way through the darkness of the deserted countryside, it becomes clear that the killer can’t locate the place where he left his victim. Cigarettes are smoked; conversations occur and refresh­ments are served in a local village; nothing significant seems to happen. Yet whether we are aware of it or not, small clues are being planted along the way.

Like a game of chess, the grand design of this subtle and disturbing film comes increasingly into focus as events progress. Things are not always as they appear to be, and in Kafka-like gestures, people, emo­tions and events are developed in different and deeper ways. Once Upon A Time in Anatolia is ambiguous enough that we must concentrate on all the details of the canvas before the full story becomes apparent — or does it? A number of doors open teasingly, creating a labyrinthine world that mirrors our present incomprehension at so many contemporary events. What is truth and how we find it are some of the questions Ceylan raises in this superior exploration of a crime and its investigation.
Piers Handling

Nuri Bilge Ceylan was born in Istanbul. He studied cinema at Mimar Sinan University. His films include The Small Town (98), Clouds of May (00), Distant (03), which won the Grand Prix as well as the prize for best actor for its two male leads at the Cannes Film Festival, Climates (06), Three Monkeys (08) and Once Upon A Time in Anatolia (11).

Country:Turkey/Bosnia and Herzegovina
Runtime:157 minutes
Format: 35mm
Producer:Zeynep Ozbatur Atakan; Production Company:Zeynofilm
Principal Cast: Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan,Taner Birsel, A. Mumtaz Taylan,Ercan Kesal
Screenplay:Ercan Kesal, Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Cinematographer:Gokhan Tiryaki
Editor:Bora Goksingol, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Sound:Thomas Robert
US Distributor: The Cinema Guild 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800 · New York, NY 10001
Phone: (800) 723-5522 · Fax: (212) 685-4717 · email:
International Sales Agent:Zeynofilm

1 comment:

Penelope Sanchez said...

This is a film for patient viewers who enjoy the leisurely-paced works of Malick, von Trier, Kiarostami, Tarkovsky or other auteurs of so-called Contemporary Contemplative Cinema.

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