Cinema Near the Bosphorus

in 22nd Istanbul Film Festival

by Bojidar Manov

A big festival geographically located on two continents seeks by its ambitious program to gain a footing in world cinema. In its 22nd edition the Istanbul film festival was able to present the audience with a truly impressive selection of 197 films that for 16 days filled up the halls of the five of the biggest theaters along the fashionable Istiklal (Independence) Street located in the center of this extraordinary city.

The international competition comprised of 13 films including 4 national Oscar nominees for foreign language film: “Hafid/The Sea” (Iceland), “El crimen del padre Amaro/The Crime of Father Amaro” (Mexico), “Sanduk Ajab/The Magic Box” (Tunisia) and “Aime ton pere/A Loving Father” (Switzerland). But along with them the selection also included the very good independent films “Tan de repente/Suddenly”(Argentina, dir. Diego Lerman) and “Personal Velocity” (USA, dir. Rebeka Miler). The Jury presided over by the Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan (a three-time Oscar nominee as director, scriptwriter and producer) was delighted with Diego Lerman’s film giving it The Golden Tulip Award, and the daughter of the famous playwright left with The Special Prize of the Jury.

Naturally, more interesting for the foreign guests – filmmakers, film critics and journalists – was the national Turkish selection, since the opportunity to see 8 new Turkish films and the additional bright idea to show another 4 films in “Young Turks Abroad” section is really very attractive and useful. Thus in a few days an almost complete picture of today’s Turkish cinema was outlined. This pattern is already familiar from the previous years genre and thematic trends (a melodrama, a psychological drama, several commercial “love stories” and a war comedy), quite unequal in artistic levels, but with an indisputable favorite that is several steps above all the others – “Uzak” (“Distant”) by the undoubtedly very talented Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Beating all competition he collected the awards for the best film, for the best director and the FIPRESCI Prize. (NB: The film is reviewed in detail in the article by the Jury member Ikbal Zalila, Tunisia).

Along with the two competitions, Istanbul offered also a very interesting selection of 13 documentaries, an information program consisting of 20 titles that has made noises at other festivals (“From the World of Festivals”), as well as carefully selected In memoriam collections of Yasujiro Ozu and William Wyler. Tributes to Claude Chabrol, Brian de Palma, Zeki Okten and Edward Yang added to the pleasure of the cinema fans.