Sunday, December 7, 2014

19th IFFK -Country focus: A continuum of Turkey

‘Films often act as a prism that refracts the issues facing a nation, and Turkish cinema in particular serves to encapsulate the cultural and social turmoil of modern-day Turkey. Marked by continually shifting ethnic demographics, politics, and geographic borders, Turkish society struggles to reconcile modern attitudes with traditional morals and centuries-old customs.

The country focus section  of the current edition  of the International Film Festival of India include  very selected 8 films from Turkey, a  country  celebrating 100 years of cinema..
‘Among the films in the Turkish package, there are several outstanding ones. For example, 'Sivas', which won the Jury Special Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2014, is about a boy and a discarded fighting dog he adopts, but it is all about growing up in a male macho milieu in Anatolia. The director is a very young man.On a completely different note, 'Pandora's Box', directed by Ustaoglu has won several awards, is about a mother with Alzheimer and her two estranged daughters and her son, and her grandson. Alzheimer here is also a metaphor for collective amnesia in Turkey, forgetting the past (the history, the sufferings caused by three military interventions between 1960-1980, etc) and living with the present only, especially the new middle class with the passion for consumerism. The film is also very important in stressing our relation to architecture. The fashionable 'gated communities' where the rich live in high-rise buildings that form a city of their own, with all amenities inside, alienate people to themselves. As an architect by training, the director's often points at overpasses, underpasses, skyscrapers that don't leave breathing space. It is also about the young generation with middle class parents, who are suffocating under the pressures of protective parents. Ustaoglu is the leading woman director of Turkey at present
.'Majority', which won the Lion of the Future award in Venice a couple of years back is also a film that was discussed a lot.  On the surface,  the family in the film is the new middle class with money with Anatolian origins, merchant class with no cultural values, conservative, nationalist, religious with right wing politics, who only care about their inner circle, the family. Their son is growing with no ambitions of his own. He'll take over the business one day.’ Other films in the package are The Night of Silence’ written and directed by Reis Celik, has bagged numerous awards including the Crystal Bear at the Berlin International Film festival. ‘Come to My voice’, directed by Huseyim Kerebey, ‘A Fair Ground Attraction’ directed by Mechmet Eryilmaz. ‘I am not Him’ and written and directed by Tayfun Pirselimoglu and Yozgat Blues,  directed by Mahmut Fazil Cozkum.

. This package is curated by  Gönül Dönmez-Colin  an acclaimed  film scholar specializing in the cinemas of Central Asia and the Middle East. She is the author of Women, Islam and Cinema,Cinemas of the Other: A Personal Journey with Filmmakers from the Middle East and Central Asia, and The Cinema of North Africa and the Middle East.

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