Posts Tagged ‘Golden Orange’

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



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