London Calling News
Istanbul Film Festival 2009 to take start
By Evrim Ersoy Mar 23, 2009, 11:11 GMT
April in Istanbul is the righteous beginning of spring to many people. It entails the start of the barbecue season, drinking outside in Beyoglu, long walks in Camlica in the cool air - and yet to just as many people it signals the start of something precious and almost holy: The Istanbul International Film Festival. For 20 days, a triumvirate of movie cathedrals will be established in Beyoglu - a zone that is tinged with anger, delight, happiness, excitement and most of all: the creme de la creme of film making from around the world.
Last year 170.000 people attended the Istanbul International Film Festival and judging by the strength of the programme this year, it is not hard to imagine that number almost doubling. Not only the quality of the films is incorrigible but also there is more variety than ever before.
This year, the opening film has been chosen to be 'Welcome' - a tale of love between immigrants and swimming , it is brought to us by French Filmmaker Philippe Loiret whose last effort 'Je vais bien, ne t'en fais pas' turned out to be one of the most cracking thrillers of 2006. In 'Welcome' Loiret tells the Romeo and Juliet like love story between Bilal and Mina , two immigrants who are seperated by the English Channel. When Bilal decides to get to his one and only love by swimming across the channel, the decision turns out to have effects on not only the two youngsters but all those around them.
As usual, the Festival is divided into handy categories, allowing a thematic grouping of the films being shown. Some of the regular categories make an appearance as usual: the Akbank Galas, Human Rights in Cinema, From The World Of Festivals as well as some new categories which will prove very interesting to film goers such as ”Let there be love”,”Rebels, Saints and Troubadours”.
In order to be able to give Time Out Readers a sense of how rich the festival will be this year, we will take a look at each category briefly.
In The International Competition twelve films from eleven countries will be competing for the prestigious Golden Tulip award. Chosen to represent the best of cinema as seventh art the films this year include Tony Manero , a Chilean critique of life under the Pinochet regime as well as an exploration of the dominance of American culture; Zift, Bulgaria's submission for best Foreign Film Oscar focusing on the recent past of the country and rendering through the eyes of a recently-released criminal and Disgrace, an adaptation of the Nobel prize winning novel of the same name and featuring a standout performance from John Malkovich as a university professor living in South Africa who loses everything after he has an affair with his students. The section also features two very strong films out-of-competition: Ed Harris's brilliant b-western Appaloosa and Stephen Elliot's easygoing adaptation of Noel Coward's s 'Easy Virtue' starring none other than Colin Firth and Kristen Scott Thomas.
'Human Rights In Cinema' section is also very strong this year with ten films competing for the prestigious Council Of Europe Film Award (FACE) as well as a 10.000 Euro award. Some of the standout titles in this section include Siddiq Barmak's second film after his controversial 2003 film 'Obama' , 'Opium War' and Jean-Stephanie Sauvaire's breathtaking look at child soldiers in 'Johnny Mad Dog'.
Out Of Competitition the festival will be screening the much anticipated '8' which not only features the talents of filmmakers such as Gaspar Noe and Jane Campion but also focuses on one of the most important issues currently on the world agenda: poverty.
The cream of the crop from World Cinema is represented very well in this year across a number of categories: Whilst 'From The World OF Festivals' brings to Istanbul the choicest films from festivals in other European countries, 'Young Masters; section presents the work of up and coming new world director whilst its' counterpart 'Challenging The Years' has works by seasoned director. There's also 'Let There Be Love' which looks at any and every kind of cinematic love one can imagine as well as a special section called 'Land Of Silver, Cinema Of Gold: Argentina' which has a specific focus on Argentinian cinema.
Some of the stand-out titles from these sections include 'Somers Town', the film from successful British filmmaker Shane Meadows focusing on the friendship between an English boy and a Polish immigrant; Flame& Citroen, an exciting tale of Second World daring-do from Denmark and Revanche – Austria's Oscar nominated slow-burning tale of revenge and violence. In 'Young Masters, “Lake Tahoe' stands head and shoulders above most of the titles with its low budget but big hearted tackling of teenage problems as well as future Russian classic 'Vse Umruty, A Ya Ostanus' (Everybody Dies But Me) – a touching and very strong tale of teenage disenchantment.
In 'Challenging the Years' , master Bernard Tavernier brings to the screen a very unusual tale for him: 'In The Electric Mist' – based on one of the most successful American crime novels of the last century, this is perhaps the masters' most accessible film in years. There's also 'Of Time And City' , Terence Davies elegant, heart-breaking and absolutely beautiful love letter to his hometown of Liverpool and to a time long lost.
For those who like their cinema with a little bit more bite ' Mined Zone' and 'Midnight Madness' welcome you to their very forbidding bosom this year. Whilst' Mined Zone' brings together unusual, extraordinary and groundbreaking films which play with form and content , 'Midnight Madness' contains presents stimulating, shocking and outrageous films and filmmakers that will defy every rule you know.
Whilst 'Mined Zone' brings to the fore titles such as 'Los Bastardos' – the shocking film by Amat Escalante which divided audiences sharply at Cannes last year and Takeshi Kitano's new exercise in self-deprecation 'Achilles and The Tortoise' – 'Midnight Madness' presents four of the craziest, most exciting films from around the world including 'The Cottage- a new effort by 'London to Brighton' helmer Paul Andrew Williams as well as 'The Loft' , Eric Van Looy new thriller which had the honor of being the second most watched film in Belgian Cinema history recently bestowed upon it.
Documentary lovers will be well served this year with the Festivals many strands bringing them as much choice as they possible desire.
Whilst NTV 's continuously successful 'Documentary Time With NTV' brings to the city some of the most anticipated titles such as 'Tyson'; James Toback's brilliant exploration of Mike Tyson's life and 'Chicago 10' where Oscar nominated documentarian Brett Morgen utilizes archival footage and animation to look at an American historic milestone: the infamous trial of the Chicago 8 anti-war protester.
There are also local documentaries galore in the Turkish Cinema 2008-2009 section. From 3 Hours an impressive independent documentary which focuses on the year long adventure of six university candidates to Portraits From Turkish Cinema: Tolgay Ziyal, Halit Refig, Memduh Un which brings to us small but perfectly formed impressions of some of the biggest names to have worked in the technical side of the Turkish Industry.
In the National Competition section of Turkish Cinema, fifteen films compete for the coveted award. From the social realism of 'Baska Semtin Cocuklari' to the resilience of life and all its' hopes in 'Hayat Var' this section presents the top rankings films produced within the last year.
There are also some very special titles being shown in 'Out Of Competition' like Cagan Irmak's fantastic portrayal of the downfall of a relationship in 'Issiz Adam' as well as Nuri Bilge Ceylan's new masterpiece 'Uc Maymun'.
Young filmmakers are also represented in 'New Turkish Cinema' with a wide-variety of titles.
Those who think that is all would find themselves sorely shocked: there is also Turkish Classics Revisited presenting some early masterpieces from Turkish cinema, in the 'Tributes' section master filmmaker Raymond Depardon gets a retrospective of his body of work and actors are remembered with some of their prolific work, Bill Plympton becomes the focus of 'The World Of Animation' and Nokia N Short Film Competition and Hisar Short Film Competition bring the best of the short films in cinema (with a little help from British Futureshorts) to the Istanbul screen.
And even then the rich tapestry of the Festival is only marginally unfolded: there's meetings on the bridge, masterclasses, side events – a whole cornucopia of colours, experiences and tastes that will satisfy each single individual.
To experience the entire line-up of the festival including events do yourself a favor and log onto www.iksv.org – we promise that you will not see a more varied, wild, entertaining and beautiful line-up this year!