Posts Tagged ‘Turkish film’

London Turkish Film Week | 24-30 April 2019

London Turkish Film Week is back for a second year running in the luxurious surroundings of the Regent Street Cinema and various other well-known venues across the capital. From 24 -30 April a selection of recent dramas and documentaries will be accompanied by talks and a chance to meet the directors and cast.

Turkish cinema is known for its captivating widescreen dramas that reflect the cultural diversity and magnificent scenery of a vibrant nation that stretches from Europe to Asia.

The festival opens with Can Ulkay’s epic TURKISH ICE CREAM (2018) a rousing, rather clichéd melodrama inspired by real events that took place in a small Australian town in 1915 during the Gallipoli landings. Two Turkish nationals are trying to get back to their homeland with their families. Seen from a Turkish point of view – and naturally depicting the Allied Forces as inveterate baddies – the brutal action scenes depict the futility of war, from both sides. The emphasis here is on action rather than characterisation: so although nearly everyone dies, we don’t really care, as we never got to know them in the first place. Carrying on the war theme there is CICERO (2018) a drama based on Ilyas Bazna, one of the most famous WWII spies who worked for Nazi Germany while employed as a butler to the British Ambassador, Hughe Montgomery Knatchbull Hughessen, in neutral Turkey during the mid 1940s.

The Golden Tulip winner 2017 YELLOW HEAT (Sari Sicak) sees an immigrant family desperate to survive in their traditional farm amid encroaching industrialisation. The multi-award winning drama YOZGAT BLUES (2013), set in small town Anatolia, is one to watch for its outstanding performances and smouldering cinematography. Banu Sivaci’s THE PIGEON (main image) won best director at Sofia Film Festival 2018 and is another impressive arthouse tale of a boy finding peace with the animal kingdom, away from the dystopian world in small-town Adana, Southern Turkey. And finally MURTAZA another beautifully crafted and resonant parable about the importance of traditional values in the mountains of Malatya.

Other features and shorts reflect the usual Turkish themes of town versus country, tradition versus the modern world, and the role of women in enlightened society. Another highlight will be Ahmet Boyacioglu’s latest film THE SMELL OF MONEY a tense and startling exposé of financial corruption in contemporary Turkey. And last but not least, a panel of industry professionals will debate the future of the big screen At the Flicks of Netflix? at the Regent Street Cinema on 26th April.


A Tale of Three Sisters (2019) *** Berlinale 2019

Wri/Dir: Emin Alper | Cast: Cemre Ebuzziya, Ece Yuksel, Helin Kandemir, Kayhan Acikgoz, Mufit Kayacan, Kubilay Tuncer, Hilmi Ozcelik, Basak Kivilcim Ertanoglu | Turkish, 108’

A tale of Three Sisters seems like a step backwards for Emin Alper who started his career with the outstanding psychodrama Beyond the Hill. Frenzy followed promisingly, an Istanbul set story of political turmoil.

This folkloric family fable sees him back in another rural part of Turkey, in an Anatolian mountainside village cut off from the modern world. Here three daughters are trying to escape to the capital Ankara, but are thwarted by their poor skillset and the domineering men in their lives.

Almost like a Grimm’s fairy tale the feature is imbued with a mythical quality tethered in old world customs and beliefs. There is even a village idiot who somersaults down the valley with a macabre grin – and teeth to match. But the lack of a gripping storyline sees the film rambling on for nearly two hours without a strong dramatic arc to keep us engaged.

Life goes on as it always has in this village unable to learn by its mistakes. The men drink coffee while the women look after the home. The eldest sister Reyhan (Cemre Ebuzziya) has just had a baby boy and is married to Veysal (Kayhan Acikgoz), a superstitious, embittered loser who we first meet tending his sheep on a cold winter’s night. He soon abandons the herd when confronted by two men looking to buy the fold. And his cowardly nature is the key to the second of the film’s minor tragedies unfolding in the underwhelming finale. Death, birth and illiteracy are the main setbacks for women in this patriarchal set up

Havva (Helin Kandemir), the youngest, and the middle sister Nurhan (Ece Yuksel) seem unable to be trusted with kids and have been dismissed from their care-giving jobs in Ankara by wealthy urbanite Mr Necati (Kubilay Tuncer) who controls everyone’s lot in the village. They have taken part in the Bessemer tradition whereby girls from poor families go to wealthier ones. But due to State changes these girls often never get away again and are abandoned forever in old world poverty. Their kindly widowed father, Sevket (Mufit Kayacan), is determined to find the girls other positions although they are semi-illiterate. 

Before going back to Ankara, Necati enjoys an hilltop raki picnic with Sevket and the village chief. But an unfortunate contretemps develops with Veysal ending in a punch up. Angered and resentful, the herder goes home where he also upsets Reyhan with tragic consequences.

Shot on the widescreen the magical mountain panoramas dominate along with the hostile terrain and climate. DoP Emre Erkmen works wonders with the glowing interiors where dramatic colours compliment the girls’ heightened emotions echoed in the lilting tunes of folk singers and a tremulous violin score. MT


Cracks in Concrete (2014) Risse Im Beton Berlinale 2014

Director: Umut Dag     Writers: Petra Ladinigg/Umut Dag

Cast: Murathan Muslu, Alechan Tagaev, Mehmet Ali Salman, Margarete Tiese

101min   Turkish/German with subtitles   Thriller/Drama

Best known for his work on 2007 Oscar-winner The Counterfeiters, Umut Dag’s drama explores the under world of a close-knit Turkish community in Vienna. Running along the usual lines of crims going against the grain of their previous misdemeanours to make good, it follows two men on a quest for acceptance and respect.  Ertan (Murathan Muslu) has served time for murder and is now on parole, Mikail is a teenage drug-runner for Yilmaz (Mehmet Ali Salman), and is hoping for a better life as a rapper.  But what makes this thriller really stand out from the crowd is the dynamic performances of the two leads Muslu and Tagaev.

CRACKS hits the floor running with a devastating opening scene where a middle-aged white woman is repeatedly slapping a heavy-set young man. Later we discover this was Ertan in an attempt to gain forgiveness from the mother (Margarete Tiesel/Paradise:Love) of his victim. Having fallen from grace with his father, brother and girlfriend, Ertan strikes a macho yet vulnerable figure in the ‘hood, and matters don’t seem to improve.  Meanwhile, Mikail is, in many ways, a younger version of Ertan and Dag’s narrative soon reveals that the ties run much deeper that initial appearances might suggest. But when Ertan gets a job in Mikail’s recording studio,  there is no doubt about their hidden connection, although at this stage Mikail is oblivious to the truth.

As a crestfallen antihero, Muslu is superb in a believable performance reflecting Ertan’s gradual descent into social hell, exquisitely etched in his myriad expressions of pain and dejection, as he reins back from violence and recidivism. The young Tagaev lacks Muslu’s acting finesse but projects a strong image of a broken teenager, gentle and fearful behind his ‘no-fear’ persona.

Shot through with its cool blue aesthetic, Georg Geutebruck’s agile ‘chiaroscuro’ camerawork skilfully captures both light and dark in a visually stylish thriller that races forward in the filmic ambience of a seedy concrete underworld, throbbing with sinuous energy and nightclubs throbbing with exotic totty and macho males. There’s a stunning sequence towards the end where Ertan is walking along the street, that makes you forgive Dag his slightly formulaic narrative in a feature that literally pulsates with the rhythm of life. MT


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