Artists and Models By Katharina Dockhorn

in 26th Istanbul International Film Festival

by Katharina Dockhorn

The FIPRESCI Award in the International Competition of the 26th International Film Festival went to the Danish production The Art of Crying [Kunsten At Graede I Kor] by Peter Schonau Fog. The warmhearted story of a family hiding a secret everybody knows but nobody acknowledges is told from the innocent point of view of a 10- or 12-year-old boy and balances very well moments of tragedy and comedy. The movie fits into one of the two major themes of the competition. First, experiences with first love, friendship, creating families and finding the right profession. The second subject was the role of artists in the society and the struggle of people to become or to work as an artist.

Factory Girl by US director George Hickenlooper portrays the rise and fall of Edie Sedgwick, a blond, beautiful, well-educated young woman in the sixties. After meeting Andy Warhol, she found herself in a strange universe of Pop Art, modeling, sex, drugs and rock’n roll which ended after she met young singer Bob Dylan. Tom Dicillio reflects in Delirious — a story of a paparazzi in his 40’s who had lost already his dreams and a young boy who still dreams to become an actor — about the bad sides of the press, stars, fame, and soap operas. By telling the story the director stands true to his humor very well known since Living in Oblivion.

Kurdish singers are observed by Bahman Ghobadi for his road movie and dark comedy Half Moon [Niwemang]. It is forbidden in Iran for women to sing and to perform together with men. But Mamo, the “Kurdish Mozart”, will unite after 35 years the best musicians and male and female singers from all over the country, to perform in the Kurdish part of northern Iraq. But on the way he has to face a lot of difficulties with official personalities.

The King and the Clown (Wang-ui namja) by Jun-ik Lee from South Korea also deals with the relationship of art and politics. His movie is based on real characters from Korean history. A group of artists and clowns succeed with their short plays about the tyrannical king, his wife and his ministers. The king is impressed by their performance, and falls in love with the actor who usually plays female roles. But he shares already intimate feelings with the male clown leading the group. The film doesn’t only reflect the forbidden desire, but on fate, class struggle, possessing a free spirit but especially the problem of the artist under a tyrannical regime.

The Turkish-Hungarian coproduction Waiting for Heaven [Cenetti Beklerken] by Dervis Zaim is an adventure and road movie set in the 17th century Ottoman Empire. It deals also with the destiny of an artist confronted with political interests. The miniature painter Eflatun, originally from Croatia, remains influenced by the artistic style of his homeland. He depicts his son and his wife in the forbidden western style after their death. He is really surprised that the grand vizier wants him to paint the portrait of Prince Danyel, an illegal son of the sultan who rebelled against him. Now he is in prison in Anatolia. Eflatun has no choice but to ride to Anatolia, where he finds a new love and is involved in the struggle between the troops of the rebel and the emperor.

A lot of stories were told about the first experiences with art. Poison Friends [Les Amitiés maléfiques, directed by Emmanuel Bourdieu] shows a group of four friends in France who want to become writers or actors. André, a charming and brilliant student, isn’t able to fit into the study system and to look on his own possibilities honestly. Reprise by the Norwegian director Joachim Trier is a portrait of two friends who have written their first book. Phillip’s novel will be published and lead to fame; Erik’s script will be denied by the publisher. After six month, writing is the last thing on the mind of Philip, but Erik found a way to follow his dream and to have success.

Nicolas Hytner adapted the successful English theater play The History Boys which he already had directed for Broadway. He observes eight intelligent students and their teachers from a normal school in the north of England as they try to fulfill their dreams and pursue an undergraduate place in Oxford or Cambridge universities in the mid 80’s. The Hottest State by Ethan Hawke is based on his own acclaimed novel. The focus of the story is on William, a young and talented young actor, falling in love with the singer and songwriter Sarah.

A similar story is told by Sean Ellis in Cashback. The movie is based on his own Oscar-nominated short film. After loosing his first big love, the young art student Ben is forced to work in the local supermarket. He imagines he has the ability to freeze time. During work he paints the quiet checkout girl Sharon. They have a little love affair. But after a party the couple splits after a misunderstanding. A few months later the first show of Ben with the paintings of Sharon will be opened. She realizes the compliment and how much she is in love with him. The tragedy of a couple is also shown in the Australian movie Candy by Neil Armfield, adapting a novel by Luke Davies. The movie shows how drugs can ruin the life of a man and also his marriage to the woman he loves so much.

Two movies completed the competition. Cesar-winner Lady Chatterley by Pascale Ferran is the first adaptation of D.H Lawrence’s masterpiece by a female director. The film is based on the second version of the novel which had been written three times. Ferran points out especially the female sexual desire in a love affair between an English lady and a gamekeeper. Gianni Amelio’s new movie The Missing Star [La stella che non c’è] follows Vincenzo, an Italian engineer, to China. A defect machine was sold by the Italians to China. Vincenzo is looking for a solution to fix it. But he is to late to make it in his country. He makes his way to China to find the machine. He meets with the young interpreter Liu Hua. She helps him on his way from Shanghai to the South and North of China. Amelio shows all the familiar facts about the shadows of the Chinese economic boom: pollution of air and environment, the damage to the nature by big projects like the damn on River Yang Tse, as well the big differences between daily life in the prosperous cities and in the poor countryside. But he also denies that Chinese workers feel responsible for their work and working places.