Wednesday, March 07, 2012

31. Istanbul IFF | National Competition Films

The programme of the 31st Istanbul Film Festival was announced on Wednesday, 7 March at the press conference held in İKSV Salon. Speakers during the press conference were İKSV Chairman of Board of Directors Bülent Eczacıbaşı, Akbank General Manager Hakan Binbaşıgil and Assistant Director of the Istanbul Film Festival Kerem Ayan.

The festival programme presents a rich content to cinephiles as always. The festival will meet the audience this year with a wide spectrum selections expanding new feature movies of 2011 and 2012, unforgetable classic movies, and masterpieces of master directors, movies having world premieres in Sundance in January and in Berlin in February, National Golden Tulip, International Golden Tulip and FACE Human Rights Competitions, documentaries, and children movies. “Cinema and Music” section planned for the 40th year of İKSV as well as new sections like “Filming Revolution”, “What’s Happening in Greece?” and “A Chinese Film Tradition: WuXia”, “Within the Family” and 15-hour-long special view of Mark Cousins’s The Story of Film: An Odyssey stand out in the festival. The Special Prize of the Jury, which was supported with a monetary award for the first time in 2011, will come to be distributed by Efes this year. Among the films partaking in the Golden Tulip National Competition, the director of the film to win the Special Jury Prize in the memory of Onat Kutlar, will be awarded 30,000 US Dollars by Efes to be used in his/her next film.  

This year, the Golden Tulip International Competition Jury will be led by renowned director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who lately won the Special Jury Prize in Cannes Film Festival with his latest film Once Upon A Time in Anatolia. In addition to the Golden Tulip as the Grand Prize of the festival, the jury will also present a director the Special Prize of the Jury for exceptional achievement. The International Competition will be supported by a total of 25,000 Euro monetary prizes to be given by the Eczacıbaşı Group in the memory of Şakir Eczacıbaşı. Of this total amount, 10,000 Euros will be given to the Turkish distributor of the film to earn the Golden Tulip Best Film award.


Meanwhile, the Golden Tulip National Competition Jury will be headed by poet and writer Murathan Mungan, whose several works have been adapted to theater. Mungan was also the screenwriter of Dağınık Yatak / An Untidy Bed by Atıf Yılmaz, considered a cult film by many. Lead by Mungan, the jury will hand out nine awards including the Best Turkish Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Director of Photography, Best Music, Best Editing, and Special Prize of the Jury.

The film to be selected as the Best Turkish Film will be awarded 150,000 TL, and the Best Director will be awarded 50,000 TL. The Best Actress and Best Actor will be awarded 10,000 TL each.

31.  Istanbul IFF | National Competition Films 
March 31-April 15, 2012

(World Premiers) 
Ben Uçtum, Sen Kaldın / Mizgin Müjde Arslan
Ana Dilim Nerede? / Veli Kahraman
Şimdiki Zaman / Belmin Söylemez
Ferahfeza / Elif Refiğ

(National Premiers) 
Tepenin Ardı / Emin Alper 
Lal Gece / Reis Çelik
Babamın Sesi / Orhan Eskiköy & Zeynel Doğan

and in competition

İz-Rêç / M. Tayfur Aydın   
Can / Raşit Çelikezer 
Yeraltı / Zeki Demirkubuz 
Nar / Ümit Ünal 

The Crossing | Kavsak by Selim Demirdelen (2010)

The Crossing | Kavsak
Turkey, 2010, 95 Minutes
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Family Issues

DIRECTOR: Selim Demirdelen
Producer: Turker Korkmaz
Screenwriter: Selim Demirdelen
Cinematographer: Aydin Sarioglu
Principal Cast: Güven Kirac, Sezin Akbasogullari

The hero of Turkish writer/director Selim Demirdelen's psychological drama is a painfully shy middle-aged accountant named Güven (Güven Kirac), who measures out his life in equal portions of work and family: the highlight of each weekday seems to be an afternoon phone call from his small daughter, assuring her father that she's home safe from school. But Güven has a secret, we soon learn: he has no daughter, no wife, no family at all. In the wake of tragedy, this bulky, quiet man in a buttoned-up cardigan has constructed an elaborate domestic fantasy to help him cope.

Demirdelen enriches this portrait of loneliness with those of two of Güven's co-workers, a prickly young man named Haydar (Umut Kurt) and a struggling young mother, Arzu (Sezin Akbasogullari), recently separated from her alcoholic husband. Then there’s Güven’s explosive upstairs neighbor, Vedat (Cengiz Bozkurt), who torments his wife, daughter and ancient mother with screaming rants.

Set alternately in the stifling accountancy office, the dark, rainy streets of Istanbul and the bleak hospital where the various traumas of its characters are revealed, The Crossing is a compelling examination of an ordinary man's extraordinary capacity for sacrifice and of the mysterious ties that bind us. Güven Kirac's performance as the anonymous Everyman is beautifully detailed down to the smallest gesture of bewilderment or despair.
—Bill Gallo

Friday, March 02, 2012

Yoghurt and murder with Nuri Bilge Ceylan


  • Yoghurt and murder with Nuri Bilge Ceylan

    It won the Cannes grand prix – but people have been walking out of Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. Stuart Jeffries finds him unrepentant

    once upon time anatolia'The problem with Hollywood," says Nuri Bilge Ceylan, "is the audience expects to get the answers like a pill. They expect to know not just whodunnit, but the motives of the characters, the how and why. Real life is not like that. Even our closest friend – we don't know what he really thinks. In films we want more than in real life, everything being made clear. That means this kind of cinema is a lie. I cannot make cinema that way."

    I had asked the 52-year-old Turkish director to explain why his new film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, which won the grand prix at Cannes last year, refuses to provide answers. It's an epically lugubrious, austerely beautiful 157-minute police procedural in which a murder suspect is driven around the Anatolian steppes at night in a convoy of police cars, to find the place where he and his brother buried their victim. Along the way, we learn lots of increasingly gloomy things: what kind of yoghurt the cops like, how Turkey will need to reform itself to join the EU, that the local doctor likes to quote Russian poetry – but not who did what to whom and why.

    "I know my films can be difficult and exasperating," says Ceylan with a smile as we sit in a London hotel. Indeed. Some people have walked out during the autopsy scene, on account of all the unpleasant squelching that forces viewers to imagine the grisly visuals the camera is refusing to capture.

    One of the most striking things about the film, though, is the fact that, while all the protagonists are men, it is women who drive the story. The murder was probably committed because of a woman. The prosecutor's wife (again probably) committed suicide on the same day her child was born, in revenge for her husband's infidelity. And, in one key scene, a small-town mayor supplies the investigators with a night-time meal at which his beautiful daughter dispenses tea. The men all seem to have a religious epiphany as they see her candlelit face. What was that about? "If you see a girl like this in London, it wouldn't influence you. There are many beautiful girls around. In the desert, when a girl like that, at the end of a long night, appears like a madonna in your ordinary world, that moment has the sense of a miracle."

    This notion also helped them solve a script problem. "We couldn't work out why the guy confesses where the body is at that point. We wanted to find a realistic reason. So we talked with a police chief in Anatolia. And he told this story, 'Sometimes I'll beat a suspect for three days and they don't even say one word. Then they hear a child or see a woman. Suddenly they cry and want to confess everything.'" Because of her beauty and her seeming compassion? "Definitely. In The Brothers Karamazov, you remember, Dmitri wakes up and realises somebody has put a pillow under his head. That makes him confess to a murder he hasn't committed."

    There are autobiographical elements to the film: the all-male milieu, for instance, is partly based on Ceylan's experience of military service. But then Ceylan has often plundered his life for material. In 2000's Clouds of May, about a film-maker incessantly filming his parents, his mother and father played the parents. Ceylan readily admits it was a self-critical film: "In my first film, I had taken all these images of my family and used them. And when I looked at what I'd photographed back in Istanbul I saw that I had taken and given nothing back. My grandmother was trying to talk to me and I wouldn't listen while I was filming. I was very selfish and I wanted to make a film about that."

    Uzak, two years later, was about a seemingly sophisticated and successful Istanbul photographer called Mahmut (clearly modelled on Ceylan), who is visited by his unemployed, uneducated cousin Yusuf. There's a terrific scene in which Mahmut puts on a video of a Tarkovskymovie to impress his cousin, who gets bored and leaves. As soon as he does so, Mahmut flicks over to porn. In 2006's Climates, Ceylan appears opposite his wife in an unremitting drama about a marriage on the skids, again clearly based on his own.

    "After a while, I ran out of autobiography," he says, "so I started making other films." Three Monkeys, in 2008, was the first, a marvellously taut existential drama about denial and desire in which a politician's driver takes the fall when his boss kills a pedestrian while asleep at the wheel. The second post-autobiographical film is Once Upon a Time in Anatolia – or it would be if its lead were not so evidently steeped in Ceylan's melancholic sensibility. "I can't help that. When you construct a character, you look at the person you know best: yourself.I decorate each character with weaknesses of the human soul and, to check whether those decorations are true, I look at myself."

    Near the end, there's another miracle. The doctor, after a long irksome night, walks out into the small town where he has lived for a year or so. He sees it as if for the first time: an awning flaps in the wind, the breeze carries a flock of birds into the sky. "That feeling I know very well," says Ceylan. "Sometimes everything touches you completely differently. That is what the melancholy want – to feel they exist."

    Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
    Production year: 2010
    Country: Rest of the world
    Runtime: 157 mins
    Directors: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
    Cast: Firat Tanis, Muhammet Uzuner, Taner Birsel, Yilmaz Erdogan