As the countdown begins for the 53rd International Antalya Film Festival, co-hosted by Menderes Türel, Mayor of Antalya Metropolitan Municipality and Festival President, and Elif Dağdeviren, the Festival’s Director, twelve films – including two documentaries – will contend for the Golden Orange award in the festival’s National Feature Film Competition category.
Featuring both internationally- and nationally-acclaimed films, this year’s selection attests to the continuing rejuvenation of Turkish cinema. Nominees include new masterpieces by avant-garde young directors Yeşim Ustaoğlu (Tereddüt/Clair-obscur, a Turkish premiere) and Derviş Zaim (Rüya/Dream), as well as eight debut features; two of the films selected are second feature films. Six of the twelve films focus on female characters, and three on children. Unusually, all films in the selection focus on family relations, a thematic contrast to typically male-oriented cinema.
The 53rd International Antalya Film Festival National Feature Film Competition includes:
- ALBÜM / Album (Mehmet Can Mertoğlu) *
- BABAMIN KANATLARI / My Father’s Wings (Kıvanç Sezer) *
- EŞİK / Verge (Ayhan Salar) *
- GENÇ PEHLİVANLAR / Young Wrestlers (Mete Gümürhan) *
- MAVİ BİSİKLET / Blue Bicycle (Ümit Köreken) *
- ORHAN PAMUK’A SÖYLEMEYİN KARS’TA ÇEKTİĞİM FİLMDE KAR ROMANI DA VAR/ Don’t Tell Orhan Pamuk That His Novel Snow Is In The Film I Made About Kars (Rıza Sönmez) *
- RAUF / Rauf (Barış Kaya- Soner Caner) *
- RÜYA / Dream (Derviş Zaim)
- RÜZGARDA SALINAN NİLÜFER / Swaying Waterlily (Seren Yüce)
- SİYAH KARGA / Black Crow (Tayfur Aydın)
- TEREDDÜT / Clair Obscur (Yeşim Ustaoğlu)
- TOZ / Dust (Gözde Kural) *
* debut feature
Details of individual films follow:
Directed by Mehmet Can Mertoğlu, Albüm offers a darkly comic study of racism, targeting the hypocrisy of bourgeois morality. The film made its world premiere in Critic’s Week at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it received the France 4 Visionary Award; it subsequently earned a FIPRESCI award at the Jerusalem Film Festival. It tells the story of a young couple (played by Şebnem Bozoklu and Murat Kılıç) who, shortly before they move to another city, fake photos of a pregnancy and childbirth in order to make people believe that the child they have adopted is their biological son. The film co-stars Zuhal Gencer Erkaya, Muttalip Müjdeci, Müfit Kayacan and Rıza Akın.
BABAMIN KANATLARI (MY FATHER’S WINGS):
Set against the background of difficult labour conditions for construction workers, Babamın Kanatları/My Father’s Wings (directed by Kıvanç Sezer) depicts a family tragedy. İbrahim, an earthquake victim, learns that he has a terminal illness, but decides against receiving treatment in order to ensure that his family, in Van, can move to new apartments. His ambitious, amoral nephew Yusuf works at the same construction site as İbrahim, and seizes opportunities without any regard for moral norms. Telling a story of corruption and a father’s desperation, the film competed at the 51st Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, and stars accomplished actor Menderes Samancılar alongside a young, dynamic supporting cast (Musab Ekici, Kübra Kip and Tansel Öngel).
A city on the edge of a country. A road on the edge of a city. A two-storey house on the edge of a road. We are face-to-face with different generations – sometimes on the edge of madness, sometimes on the other side of that divide while living in the house, as two women mirror each other across two different generations. Eşik/Verge is directed by Ayhan Salar and Erkan Tahhuşoğlu, whose paths crossed in Germany; having competed at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for the East of the West award, the film will make its Turkish premiere at IAFF. It stars Senem Çelikkol, Bedia Yaman, Mine Özen and Raci Küçük.
GENÇ PEHLİVANLAR (YOUNG WRESTLERS):
They live, learn and suffer for their passion: 26 students at the Amasya Wrestling Center Boarding School confront many hardships to become the wrestling champions of future. Directed by Mete Gümürhan, Genç Pehlivanlar/Young Wrestlers made its world premiere in Berlinale Generation. The director observes the children without interfering, and thanks to his approach, we witness the daily life of these young boys’s lives, torn between camaraderie and competition. Genç Pehlivanlar is one of the two documentaries screening in the National Feature Film category. The titular wrestlers are Muhammed Ceylan, Baran Kendirlioğlu, Beytullah Onur, Harun Kılıç and Ahmet Yücel.
MAVİ BİSİKLET (BLUE BICYCLE):
Mavi Bisiklet/Blue Bicycle tells the heartbreaking story of a boy who becomes acquainted at a very young age with the struggle to make a living, and the dirty business of democracy. 13-year-old Ali lives with his mother and sister after the suspicious death of his father, and works at a tire dealership in his free time. He gives the money he earns to his mother, taking only a small amount of pocket money for himself. This he saves toward his dream: a blue bicycle. But suddenly he must use this money for an election campaigns . . . not for himself, but to re-elect Elif, who was elected as class president but lost the title when the headmaster appointed another child in her place. The feature debut of Ümit Köreken, Mavi Bisiklet has screened at various international film festivals, notably at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival, in the Generation Kplus Competition. It features Selim Kaya, Eray Kılınçarslan, Katya Shenkova and Fatih Koca.
ORHAN PAMUK’A SÖYLEMEYİN KARS’TA ÇEKTİĞİM FİLMDE KAR ROMANI DA VAR
(DO NOT TELL ORHAN PAMUK THAT THE MOVIE I DIRECTED IN KARS FEATURES THE NOVEL SNOW)
One of the most popular actors in Turkish cinema, Rıza Sönmez goes behind the camera for this feature debut. Inspired by a visually-impaired musician whom he met in Kars during the filming of Uğur Yücel’s Soğuk/Cold, and by insights from people in the city who thought Orhan Pamuk’s novel “Snow” did not reflect their lives truthfully, Sönmez set up a camera in Kars and improvised the story of Yüksel – who urgently needs to find a musician to greet his esteemed guests and barber Kazım, an Orhan Pamuk admirer who takes photos of people, streets and objects like the character in “Snow”. Filled with humor, this documentary-drama will make its world premiere at Antalya Film Festival, and stars Yüksel Ermutlu, İsrafil Parlak, Vildan Atasever and Haydar Koçolu.
A fairytale-like movie about a little boy who lives in the shadow of a war, but struggles to make the girl he loves happy, the film (co-directed by Soner Caner and Barış Kaya) invites its audience to share the romantic dreams of a child, and a life shaped by the epic tales of Anatolia. Featuring traditional rural lifestyles in spectacular landscapes, and showcasing Alen Gürsoy, Yavuz Gürbüz and Şeyda Sözüer in leading roles, Rauf won Antalya’s Film Support Fund Award, was invited to numerous international festivals, and was declared one of the 50 Best Movies of this year by the European Film Academy (EFA).
Since his debut film, 1996’s Tabutta Rövaşata/Somersault in a Coffin, Derviş Zaim has been one of the leading figures in modern Turkish cinema. His latest feature, Rüya/Dream, finds him attempting to reconcile human issues with philosophy, via a flexible usage of time and space. It tells the story of an architect who, on the one hand, strives to protect the legacy of tradition and history, and on the other, attempts to change with the times, in order to remain relevant. An unusual plot sees him confront the realities of today’s İstanbul. Dream stars Gizem Erdem, Ebru Helvacıoğlu, Dilşat Bozyiğit, Gizem Akman and Mehmet Ali Nuroğlu.
RÜZGÂRDA SALINAN NİLUFER (THE SWAYING WATERLILY):
Seren Yüce, whose debut film Çoğunluk/Majority won the Lion of the Future award at the Venice Film Festival, and Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor awards at the 47th Antalya Film Festival, returns to Antalya once more with her latest. The Swaying Waterlily, which won the Best Screenplay award at the Montreal World Film Festival. In it, Yüce continues the social criticism she began in “Çoğunluk”, coolly dissecting the socio-economical conflicts behind the ‘friendship’ of two families of different cultural background, as if patiently scraping a painting to reveal the original image beneath. The film stars Songül Öden, Tülay Günal, Tolga Tekin and Eraslan Sağlam.
SİYAH KARGA (BLACK CROW):
Sara followed her dream of being an actress and, at the age of 21, left Iran, where she was born and grew up; she has now been living in France for nine years. Her family has ostracized her, and the Iranian government has issued a warrant for her arrest. But now she return home illegally, via Turkey, in order to see her dying father one last time. Of Siyah Karga, M. Tayfur Aydın – best known for his movie İz/Reç – says, “I wanted to convey the sorrow felt by stateless people who live away from their countries, wherever or in whatever conditions they may be living.” The movie stars Şebnem Hassanisoughi and Aziz Çapkurt, who won the Golden Orange for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Annemin Şarkısı/Song of My Mother.
An outstanding figure in Turkish cinema, both thematically and aesthetically, director Yeşim Ustaoğlu’s trademark fastidiousness is evident in Clair-Obscur, which made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and will now screen at IAFF. Psychiatrist Şehnaz does her compulsory service in a coastal town, where she encounters Elmas, who has been forced to marry at a very young age; their paths cross after a mysterious murder. The director’s fascination with the problems women face in a patriarchal society is evident in Şehnaz’s own imprisonment, in the lie of a “perfect marriage, perfect husband”; indeed, the film acutely portrays the problems of women from different classes. It stars Funda Eryiğit, Ecem Uzun, Mehmet Kurtuluş and Serkan Keskin.
Gözde Kural dared to direct her first feature film, Toz, in Afghanistan. Starring Öykü Karayel, Beran Soysal and Muhammed Cangören, the film made its world premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival, and will make its national premiere at IAFF. In it, Kural relates the story of three siblings of Afghan origin, Azra, Emir and Ahmet, who were born and raised in Istanbul. Azra travels to Afghanistan in compliance with her late mother’s will – yet every connection she makes along the way entangles her in new stories of her family’s past. As she witnesses at first-hand the effects of war, the audience discovers modern Afghanistan from an insider’s perspective.
International Antalya Film Festival continues to support new film projects with Golden Orange statuette and cash prize, and promote Turkish Cinema with national competition and short film selection. One of the most important film festivals in Europe and Asia, International Antalya Film Festival will be the heart of Turkish and world cinema for the 53rd time in 16-23 October.