Archive for the ‘Antalya film festival’ Category

Iguana Like the Sun (2022) Antalya Film Festival 2022

Dir.: Julián Robles; Cast: Dolores Heredia, Krystian Ferrer, Luisa Huertas, Myra Batalia, Sabina Petriz, Fernando Alvarez, David Hevia; Mexico 2022, 100 min.

The debut feature of Mexican director/co-writer Julián Robles is, in the widest sense, a re-working of John Huston’s 1964 classic Night of the Iguana, based on the Tennessee Williams play of the same title. But where as Huston’s failed hero is a defrocked priest, lusting after a blonde nymphet, Robles’ equivalent is Gerardo (Ferrer), a gay man living in a household of women.

The film starts with a death  – we learn later it was Gerardo’s father who was killed in his pick-up truck after a train him at an open crossing. The matriarch, grandmother Dona Dolores (Huertas) believes he was killed by the Narcos who wanted his land along the beach of the ocean where the family runs a struggling holiday camp. Gerardo is sure his father would have accepted the money from the drug lords – a scenario that seems contradictory to Dolores’ extreme suffering.

But Gerado’s main concern is his mother Mercedes (Heredia), who constantly puts him down for his sexual orientation. We are – after all – in Mexico, a bastion of machismo and the Catholic church. But then, young Elia (Batalia), has already left the Church and joined a sect, making her even less worthy than Gerardo in Dona Dominga’s estimation. Elia’s current boyfriend Mario (Alvarez) lives in an artist colony with German ex-pat Ludwig (Hevia), and wants to leave with Gerardo, now divorced from his wife. The tension mounts, and the solar eclipse, highlight of the tourist season, brings out the best and worst in all concerned.

The family is full of odd-balls: there is Indira, named after the ex-premier of India, who, does the accounts in the middle of the night, but is up to her secret dealings away from the house. Dona Dominga tries to rule un-impeded, but there are too many secrets in her closet, and when she finally decides to sell, it is too late. But there is humour too: the train which killed Gerardo’s father, used to stop near the beach, “but now it doesn’t even stop when somebody is killed.”

Iguana is a visual treat and DoP Claudio Chea should get a mention for his subtle nighttime images and powerful impressionistic beach photography. And the ending is, for once, a real surprise. Iguana Like the Sun is full of smouldering passion, denial and longing. Like the Houston film, it is a chronicle of loss. AS

ANTALYA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL | 1-09 OCTOBER 2022

Black Night (2022) Antalya Film Festival 2022

Dir.: Ozcan Alper; Cast: Berkey Ates, Cem Yigit Üzumoglu, Taner Birsel, Sibil Kekill, Pinar Deniz, Firat Kaymak; Turkey/ Germany/Netherlands/USA 2022, 113 min.

Turkish director/co-writer Ozcan Alper (Memories of the Wind) offers up a dispassionate and violent portrait of the Turkish countryside where prejudice combined with a toxic male superiority complex lead to an unpunished murder.

Told in parallel strands, the flashbacks of the original assassination and the attempt at atonement, seven years later, are brilliantly edited by Osman Bayraktaroglu and Umut Sakallioglu. During an opening shot, Ozcan Alper shows the group hysteria generated by the men’s hunting expedition. Their bloodlust, coupled with the promise of free meat, is a symbolic motif repeated in different variations through the feature.

Ishak (Ates) has been forced to go back to his village for the first time in seven years when his mother falls ill, having studiously avoided being there for his father’s funeral, a domestic tyrant who had beaten his whole family for decades. We soon learn another reason for Ishak’s reluctance to return:, the disappearance of his close friend Ali (Üzumoglu), a forest engineer. The exact circumstances are unclear as Ishak had fainted when he saw Ali’s bloodied-stained body.

So once the funeral is over, Ishak confronts his ‘friends’ demanding to know the truth. But they stonewall him and kill his faithful dog Clown. Ishak then visits the vagabond Ferhat (Birsel), who lives in the mountains where Ali disappeared, and Ferhat’s daughter Sirma (Kekill), a university lecturer in Germany. In flashback we watch Ali giving Maths lessons to Sultan (Deniz), a young woman from the village who had been sent out to find out ‘if her teacher was gay’, something everyone – apart from Ishak – had agreed on. It was clear that Ali and Sultan clearly fancied each other so Ishak asks her why she ended up marrying the abusive Nurettin (Imer), who she could not stand before Ali’s disappearance. Searching in the nearby caves for Ali’s body, Ishak finds a note giving him an exact location in a cave. It then emerges that a possible reason for Ali’s disappearance was that he was murdered by the villagers for destroying the traps they had laid out to catch wildlife : this way of poaching was forbidden by law. So they conjured up a rumour that he was either gay or taking advantage of a local woman.

Towering panoramic shots, a signature of Turkish cinema, showcase the majestic beauty of surrounding landscape. But for some, namely the villagers, the countryside is just a killing field where they hunt their forbidden prey, driving it to a cruel death. DoP Imer’s cave images are particularly special, reminiscent of El Buco. Powerful and uncompromising, Oczan Alper shows how personal gain turns into violent political mechanics.

BLACK NIGHT is Turkish cinema at its best, visually impressive and relevant, a much deserved winner at the National feature film Competition of the Golden Orange Festival in Antalya, where his feature garnered Best Screenplay and Best Film. AS

 

Bread and Salt (2022) Antalya Film Festival (2022)

Dir/Wri: Damian Kotzur | Tymoteusz Bies, Jacek Bies, Bartosz Olewinski, Malgorzata Puzio, Nikola Raczko, Nadim Shelabi, Nadim Suleiman, Wojciech Walkiewicz | Poland, Drama, 99′

A classical pianist reconnects with his past in this contemplative portrait of Polish youth that unfolds in a series of impressionistic episodes, Tomasz Wozniczka’s liquid velvet lensing and the brilliant musical interludes elevating it from being just another story of tribal conflict. 

In his outstanding first feature Damian Kotzur turns a racial tragedy into a lyrical poem. Bread and Salt – a traditional Polish greeting to newcomers – is a film full of rhythmic contrasts that gracefully balances classical and contemporary, formality and playfulness, introspection and gravity, joy and anguish, based on real events that occurred in a provincial Polish town where nothing much has changed since the fall of communism.

Tymek (Bies), a piano scholar at Warsaw’s famous Academy of Music, is back home for the summer and spends lazy days with his younger (real life) brother Jacek who has been slack in practising for his piano exams preferring to hang out with his mates and girlfriend Anita. Tymek joins in the fun but always at a discerning distance.

Their placid summer vibe is punctured by a racial incident on the bus where tension bristles when the gang tease Arab-speaking kebab shop worker Nadim, taking his rucksack and shouting racial taunts. To his credit, Nadim takes it all with a pinch of salt, philosophically claiming the incident was “God’s Will”. Tymek, already a regular at the kebab shop, quietly refuses to be drawn into proceedings but he cannot prevent his friends from having their ‘fun’. He and Nadim have a quiet respect for one another, Tymek shyly inquiring if Nadim has been offered the “bread and salt” since his arrival in the small town. Their chemistry is palpable but their tentative friendship is of a different kind and cannot calm the troubled waters or cannot bridge the gap between the sparring sides

Kotzur and his co-writer Marta Konarzewska have clearly perfected their script and Alan Zejer’s clever editing is the icing on the cake. A cast of non-professionals keeps the action fresh and real. There are scenes of sheer jubilation at a fairground attraction and these combine with the subtle beauty of a cloud of murmurating starlings; the exhilaration of the brothers’ classical piano duet (mainly playing Chopin’s nocturnes and Szymanowski’s compositions), Tymek’s subtle avoidance of Nikola’s advances as he glances casually at his bedroom clock, and his smouldering verbal attack on his tiny pupil who is driven to silent tears, the deep shock as a pool of blood seeps symbolically into the sign of a cross. And the final moments – without giving too much away – are deeply moving, elliptical and artistically sublime. A stunning debut. MT

BEST DIRECTOR | INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION | ANTALYA FILM FESTIVAL 2022

 

Snow and the Bear (2022) Antalya Film Festival

Dir/Wri: Selcen Ergun | Turkey, Drama 104’

A woman battles the elements and an intractable winter in this well-crafted debut feature from writer-director Selcen Ergun that plays out as a metaphor for female survival in modern day Turkey.

In a snowbound village in the remote eastern part of the country, young nurse Aslı (Merve Dizdar) arrives from the capital – in a similar vein to Burning Days  – although lacking the brooding intensity of Alper’s incendiary thriller.

After making her way through a mountain blizzard, it soon becomes clear that her new post is going to be challenging, physically and from a personal point of view.

The hostile weather has brought bears to the village hungry for food after their long winter sleep, but also an unwelcome  guest in the shape of Hasan (Erkan Bektaş) – a rowdy, unpopular drunkard – who soon vanishes fuelling rumours that he might have fallen foul of his sworn enemy, the sinister Samet (Saygın Soysal) – or even that bears might be responsible for his disappearance.

Dizdar is calm and resolute as the long-suffering female newcomer Asli, facing a deeply engrained patriarchal set-up where myth and folklore conspire against her modern outlook and professional training, in this enjoyable thriller enhanced by Florent Herry’s sensitive visual allure and an evocative score by Erdem Helvacıoğlu. MT

BEST FIRST FILM – BEST ACTRESS MERVE DIZDAR | NATIONAL COMPETITION | ANTALYA FILM FESTIVAL 2022

 

 

Burning Days (2022) Antalya Film Festival 2022

Wri/Dir: Emin Alper | Turkey, Thriller 129′

Emin Alper made his debut with Beyond the Hill, a searing psychological thriller centred on a family holiday. Burning Days, screening in competition at this year’s ANTALYA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, seethes with the same savage sense of dread as his previous genre thriller Frenzy (2015), taking us deep into a remote corner of southern Turkey where it tackles poverty, corruption and homophobia in a close-knit village of Yaniklar, dominated by its authoritarian mayor.

Emre (Selahattin Paşali), a clean-cut young prosecutor, represents the progressive city-dwelling face of modern Turkey, arriving from Ankara to bring order, respect and social justice to the chaos of the traditional, populist movement that thrives on corruption and nepotism in the rural backwater.

The sound of gunfire greets him as a slaughtered wild boar is dragging its bloody entrails through the streets. A drought had caused vast sink holes to open up in the desert wasteland beyond the town, not to mention a plague of rats. But Emre faces a far more serious issue in this seedy community – that of homophobia – when he forms a bond with Murat (Ekin Koc) the owner of the local newspaper.

Once again Alper generates a creeping feeling of dread and genuine fear for his earnest, upstanding central character who soon finds out the mayor’s influence overrides law and order, using the microcosm of Yaniklar to explore Turkey’s modern malaise in an absorbing and visually striking arthouse parable that sees the past in conflict with progress. MT

BEST DIRECTOR – EMIN ALPER and 7 other awards | NATIONAL FEATURE COMPETITION | ANTALYA FILM FESTIVAL 2022 | CANNES FILM FESTIVAL PREMIERE

The Beasts | As Bestas (2022)

Dir: Rodrigo Sorogoyen | Cast: Denis Menochet, Marine Fois, Diego Anido, Luis Zahara, Marie Colomb | Spain, Thriller 137′

A stunning slo-mo sequence involving wild horses opens this smouldering psychological thriller from Rodrigo Sorogoyen, providing the key to the tragedy that will follow.

Antoine (Denis Menochet) and Olga (Marina Fois) have come from France to live in a remote rural part of Galicia where they grow and sell vegetables in the local market and restore derelict houses respectful of the environmental and ecological issues involved. Although most of the locals in the tightly knit community of rough-hewn feral farming folk are friendly, Xan (Luis Zahara) and his devious younger brother Lorenzo (Diego Anido) resent the comparative newcomers, and we soon discover why.

Denis Menochet is one of those actors capable of extreme sensitivity and frightening physical power and he brings the full force of his talents to Antoine counterbalancing the subtle persuasive power of Marina Fois’ Olga in a tale that unfolds with slow-burn intensity in the lush rolling hills and verdant pastures of Spain’s rainy north-eastern corner.

Luis Zahera’s Xan is very much a match for him although clearly cut from coarser cloth that the more sophisticated Frenchman and his wife who are seen as hobbyists who are dwelling amongst them as a lifestyle choice in contrast to the dour existence endured by the local ‘hill-folk’ whose only chance to escape their gruelling poverty is through a proposal from developers.

Tensions mount after a dispute in these planning regulations and an undercurrent of edgy mistrust fuels the human interactions that mostly take place in the local bar where provocative sparring matches between Antoine and the brothers are in stark contrast to the muted beauty of the rural idyll.

The focus then turns to the female characters of Olga and her daughter Marie (Columb) whose differences are gradually resolved in a more meaningful way providing the film with its resolute and emotionally-charged final scenes that show how calm strength of character and perseverance are what really counts in dispute resolution when seeking justice and a successful conclusion. Sorogoyen and Isabel Pena’s brilliant script and clever use of contrast in both setting and characterisation make this riveting from start to finish. MT

BEST ACTRESS: MARINA FOIS | ANTALYA FILM FESTIVAL 2022 | SAN SEBASTIAN FILM FESTIVAL AUDIENCE AWARD.

The Sixth Child (2022) Antalya Film Festival 2022

Dir: Leopold Legrand | Sara Giraudeau, Benjamin Lavernhe, Damien Bonnard, Judith Chemla | France, Drama 92′

The desire for a child is an emotive hot potato that has recently seen a comedy treatment in Ninja Baby (2021) and a more romantic one in this summer’s Venice Film Festival crowd-pleaser The Children of Others (2022).  

In The Sixth Child two couples from opposite sides of the social divide come together in an unusual arrangement. Franck (Damien Bonnard in fine form) is a skint scrap metal dealer living on a caravan site with his wife Meriem (Judith Chemla) and his five kids. A sixth child is on the way. Julien (Benjamin Lavernhe) and his wife Anna (Sara Giraudeau), both lawyers, cannot have children. A court case brings Franck into contact with Julien who saves him from prison, and in return the naive but likeable Franck suggests an arrangement that might suit both couples. Franck declares himself broke and offers the lawyer the baby, suggesting a simple adoption where Franck and Anna will bring up the child, rather than a full fledged legal one – a long, convoluted process and terribly stressful for everyone.  

But once Anna befriends Merriem and sets eyes on the ultrasound of the baby she rather loses her critical and legal mind and becomes irrational, offering the God-fearing Franck and Merriem thousands of euros in cash – with a promise of more – nudging the arrangement into the bounds of human trafficking, and flying in the face of the law and her own professional status, as Julien later points out to her as emotions run high. They could both lose their jobs and end up in prison.  

A film touching on such basic human drives is always going to be moving, especially for those affected by the issues, and this directorial debut from Leopold Legrand certainly is, although the strong premise, based on Alain Jaspard’s novel, is poorly served by an uneven and underdeveloped script that not only fails to grapple with the complexity of the issues at the film’s core but instead opts for sensationalism with the human trafficking angle shoehorned into the film’s confusing final act. 

Sara Giraudeau’s Anna is the weakest character; purportedly a lawyer, she does nothing but mope around all day, and her attempts at closeness with the much more authentic Judith Chemla (Merriem) are unconvincing. Benjamin Lavernhe brings depth and sensitivity to his difficult role as the childless father. The Sixth Child is engaging and watchable as a tragedy where no one wins despite a seemingly ideal scenario. MT

THE SIXTH CHILD | ANTALYA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2022

Antalya International Film Festival 2022 | 1-9 October 2022

Antalya Film Festival opens on the 1st October 2022 celebrating its 59th edition on the Southern Turkish Riviera with a slew of award-winning titles taking part in the International Feature Film Competition, and a National Feature and Documentary Competion showcasing the latest in Turkish cinema.

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM COMPETITION

The Sixth Child | Dir: Léopold Legrand | France, Drama 103′

Judith Chemla, Sarah Giraudeau and Damien Bonnard star in Léopold Legrand’s first feature that takes another look at the morally complex world of adoption and the most fundamental yet complex human condition – that of motherhood.

The Beasts | Dir: Rodrigo Sorogoyen | Spain, Thriller 127′

Xenophobia again rears its head in this thriller about a French couple who move to a poor rural border village in Galicia, Spain where they fall foul of the locals.

Bread and Salt | Dir:  Damian Kocur | Poland, Drama, 100′

Hot on the heels of its Horizons Award at Venice Film Festival comes this courageous Polish drama exploring the far-reaching affects of interracial conflict that started in a small Polish village and is now rippling out into the wider world.

My Love Affair with Marriage | Dir: Signe Baumane, Animation 107

Signe Baumane’s bittersweet look at love and wedlock through the eyes of a subversive young woman garners a light-hearted twist from its delicately drawn animations winning the Jury Distinction prize at this year’s Annecy Festival.

Men of Deeds | Dir: Paul Negoescu, Romania, Drama, 105′

A plodding policeman is forced to toughen up and face the music in this amusing slow-burning sociopolitical drama from Romanian director Paul Negoescu.

Dustland | Dir: Kazem Daneshi | Iran Drama 100′

A town erupts in violence after a seemingly peaceful event in this morally muscular award-winning thriller from Iranian director Kazen Daneshi

Queens | Dir: Yasmine Benkiran | France, Morocco, action Drama 93′

This impressive first feature from Moroccan director Yasmine Benkiran sees three Moroccan women embark on a fearless journey of discovery across the Atlas Mountains to the Atlantic coast, with the police on their tail.

The Quiet Girl | Dir: Colm Bairéad | Ireland, Drama, 90′

One of the best dramas of 2022 is this quietly devastating story of loss and belonging set in rural Ireland in 1981, with a stunning debut performance from Catherine Clinch.

Valeria Is Getting Married | Dir: Michal Vinik | Israel,

An arranged marriage has an unexpected twist in this entertaining Israeli chamber piece that looks at the love lives of two Ukrainian sisters in Tel Aviv.

The Visitor | Dir: Martín Boulocq

Bolivia’s Martin Boulocq offers up a morally complex drama that turns on the interplay between an ex-convict retuning to his hometown and hoping for redemption and his deeply religious father-in-law who has other ideas. A strong South American cast is led by Cesar Troncoso and Mirella Pascual (Whisky).

 

JURY OF INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM COMPETITION

Actors: Anamaria Marinca, Jean-Marc Barr, Film Curator and critic Nikolaj Nikitin, Arte France director Olivier Père, and director and screenwriter Valdimar Jóhannsson (Lamb).

NATIONAL FEATURE FILM COMPETITION

Mirror, Mirror (Ayna Ayna) / Belmin Söylemez
A Hope (Bir Umut) / Ümit Köreken
Hollow (Bomboş) / Onur Ünlü
A Woman Escapes (Gidiş O Gidiş) / Burak Çevik, Sofia Bohdanowicz, Blake Williams
Hara / Atalay Taşdiken
Iguana Tokyo / Kaan Müjdeci
Snow and the Bear (Kar ve Ayı) / Selcen Ergun
Black Night (Karanlık Gece) / Özcan Alper
Burning Days (Kurak Günler) / Emin Alper
RSVP (Please Respond) (LCV [Lütfen Cevap Veriniz]) / İsmail Kurtuluş, Kaan Arıcı

JURY OF NATIONAL FEATURE FILM COMPETITION

President : screenwriter-director-producer Yeşim Ustaoğlu Her fellow jurors include the actor-director, Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan, the screenwriter-director, Azra Deniz Okyay, musician Harun Tekin, poet Haydar Ergülen, actress Nurgül Yeşilçay and cinematographer Uğur İçbak.

NATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FILM COMPETITION

23 Cents Soldier / Mümin Barış
Drifting / Somnur Vardar
Duet / Ekin İlkbağ & idil Akkuş
What’s the Name of the Film? / Pınar Fontini
Hatice / Murat Erün
The Miss / Mert Erez
KAF KAF / Metin Dağ
Who Is Mihri / Berna Gençalp
White Collar Peasants / Hazar Uyar
A Strange Sight to Behold: The Van Lake Monster / Behçet Güleryüz

JURY OF NATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FILM COMPETITION

Director-screenwriter Ceylan Özgün Özçelik, documentary director Elif Ergezen and documentary filmmaker Hilmi Etikan

ANTALYA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2022 | 1-9 OCTOBER 2022

Valeria is Getting Married (2022) Antalya Film Festival 2022

Dir: Michal Vinik | 78′

Michal Vinik’s gripping and artfully filmed sophomore feature sees two Ukrainian sisters trying to make the best of things in Israel. It reflects a reality for many women who have been conditioned to suppress their real desires in order to meet traditional societal values when their own security is threatened. But they soon discover that Israeli men are tough but fair in a situation that is far more complex than it initially appears.

Valeria (Dasha Tvoronovich) is met at the airport by her sister Christina (Lena Fraifeld) where a marriage has already been arranged, but life in Bat Yam seems super stressful even by comparison with the turmoil she has left behind.

Christina (Fraifeld) is newly married to an attractive Israeli man Michael (Yacov Zada Daniel) but already the pressure to get everything right is felt through a series of panicky telephone calls from Michael to his mother, Christina trying to smooth over her sister’s nervousness with broad smiles and reassurances.

After a treatment at the local beauty salon, Valeria (Dasha Tvoronovich) go back to the flat where she is introduced to her intended, a likeable but rather goofy vegetarian called Eitan (Avraham Shalom Levi). The guy is clearly strung out and starts blabbering about his nervousness and her need learn Hebrew at the Ulpan, presenting her with a brand new mobile phone loaded up with apps. You immediately get the impression that Valeria is less than keen about her future husband, and as the dinner proceeds the conversation is stilted and Eitan makes a series of social faux pas as a palpable tension descends on this cosy dinner for four.

It soon emerges that Christina and her husband are going to need to access state fertility treatment which can only start when she becomes a legal Israeli citizen. But clearly she is playing this down so as not to emasculate her husband. Valeria listens patiently and then asks her sister a simple question that speaks volumes: “Do you love him?”. Christina responds “it’s not like in the movies, but I have everything I need”. The couple live in a spacious modern flat in the seaside city just south of Tel Aviv.

Unfortunately Valeria behaves rather childishly refusing to come out of the bathroom to discuss her feelings like an adult with the others who are sympathetic and open to suggestions including having her own separate bedroom in Eitan’s place. After all he has paid 5,000 dollars to find a suitable bride. But it gradually descends into farce as they two sisters giggle behind the bathroom door, throwing the key out of the window. So they all go back to drawing room of this brilliantly acted and compulsive domestic drama that gradually descends into farce as the various plot strands coalesce to a satisfying conclusion. MT

SPECIAL JURY AWARD WINNER – INTERNATIONAL FEATURE COMPETITION | ANTALYA FILM FESTIVAL | VENICE FILM FESTIVAL | HORIZONS EXTRA STRAND 2022

 

 

 

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