Landscapes: A Tour of Recent Turkish Cinema

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  1. Landscapes:
  2. A Tour of Recent Turkish Cinema

From September 9 through October 3, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents “Landscapes: A Tour of Recent Turkish Cinema,” a series of eight films sampling the latest trends in one of the world’s most vital national cinemas.

As happened in the past ten years or so with Denmark, South Korea, and Romania, film festival awards (such as the 2003 Cannes Grand Jury Prize for Ceylan’s DISTANT) and the emergence of internationally acclaimed auteurs (such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Zeki Demirkubuz, Semih Kaplanoğlu, Yeşim Ustaoğlu, and Derviş Zaim) have put Turkish cinema on the map. After reaching rock bottom in the 1990s, Turkey’s film industry began a remarkable resurgence, with a dramatic increase in production (from 10-15 theatrical releases per year in the 1990s to 70-80 in recent years) and share of the local market (from 1% in the 1990s to 60% in recent years--fourth best in the world, and higher than any European country). Funding from government agencies such as the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, an increase in international co-productions, and the rise of private television as a source of capital and talent were major factors in the boom.

Turkey’s recent cinema has divided into commercial and art-house strains, but has also been marked by a productive cross-fertilization between them. Another fertile area of hybridization has involved Turkey’s oft-remarked status as a cultural/geographic bridge, linking Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Asia. This cross-cultural factor is seen most clearly in the work of transnational directors such as Germany-based Fatih Akin and Italy-based Ferzan Özpetek, and also in the evident influences of foreign filmmakers such as Bresson, Tarkovsky, Kiarostami, and Angelopoulos. As film critic Bilge Ebiri wrote, “A certain cultural schizophrenia--simultaneously Eastern and Western, both coolly aloof and jarringly expressive--is part of the very fabric of Turkish life.”

If there is one overriding factor that unifies the films in this series, it is an exceptionally strong sense of place, from the gritty cityscapes of CAN to the luscious countryside of HONEY to the spacious yet sheltering apartment of OUR GRAND DESPAIR. Perhaps one function of these firmly drawn locales is to contain the volatile ambivalences that both complicate and invigorate Turkish life and Turkish cinema--between East and West, tradition and modernity, Islam and secularism, rural and urban, to name just a few. Turkish film characters may have an uncertain sense of who they are (and their search for identity often provides the central drama), but Turkish films have a very strong sense of where they are.

Special thanks to Yeşim Ilkin, Ayca User, Chicago Turkish Film Committee, Turkish Cultural Foundation, Moon and Stars Project, Union Park Lounge, Turkish Consulate General of Chicago, Turkish American Cultural Alliance, Strand Releasing.

—Martin Rubin
Sunday double-bill discount!
Buy a ticket for the first Turkish film on any Sunday in September, and get a ticket for the second Turkish film that day at this discount rate (tickets must be purchased at the same time): General Admission $7; Students $6; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second film only. Discount rate available only at the Film Center box office.)

LOVE IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE

Showtimes

Sun, Sep 9th at 3:00pm
Wed, Sep 12th at 8:15pm
Average: 4.5 (12 votes)
  1. LOVE IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE
  1. (BASKA DILDE ASK)
  2. 2009, Ilksen Basarir, Turkey, 98 min.
  3. With Mert Firat, Saadet Aksoy

Communication and its misalignments are the keys to this offbeat, upbeat romance. Silence can be a problem for Onur, a handsome deaf-mute who works in the library, while words are all too plentiful for Zeynep in her stressful job as a telemarketer. Words are irrelevant at the noisy party where they first meet and in the passionate lovemaking that quickly follows, but the next steps, complicated by Onur’s wary mother and Zeynep’s union-organizing activities, pose a greater challenge to their relationship. In Turkish with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)

Please note: The trailer below is not subtitled. Our presentations will be subtitled in English.

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OUR GRAND DESPAIR

Showtimes

Sun, Sep 9th at 5:00pm
Mon, Sep 10th at 8:15pm
Average: 4.8 (6 votes)

North American premiere!

  1. OUR GRAND DESPAIR
  1. (BIZIM BÜYÜK ÇARESIZLIGIMIZ)
  2. 2011, Seyfi Teoman, Turkey, 102 min.
  3. With Gunes Sayin, Fatih Al, Ilker Aksum

One of Turkey’s most talented young directors, Seyfi Teoman (SUMMER BOOK) died tragically in a car accident after completing this, his second and last film. A touching, bittersweet tale of bromance complicated by romance, OUR GRAND DESPAIR (the gentle irony of the film’s overblown title is a good indicator of its overall tone) centers on two longtime buddies, burly Cetin (Al) and bookish Ender (Aksum). Their contented bachelor existence in the Ankara apartment they share is disrupted when they are enlisted as caretakers for a friend’s grief-stricken sister (Sayin). Initial problems of adjustment, such as tact and hygiene, turn more serious when both men find themselves falling for their lovely houseguest. In Turkish with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)

The audience is invited to a wine and cheese reception after the Sunday screening.

Please note: The trailer below is not subtitled. Our presentations will be subtitled in English.

See video

POLLUTING PARADISE

Showtimes

Sun, Sep 16th at 3:00pm
Wed, Sep 19th at 8:00pm
Average: 5 (5 votes)
  1. POLLUTING PARADISE
  1. (aka GARBAGE IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN)
  2. (DER MÜLL IM GARTEN EDEN)
  3. 2012, Fatih Akin, Germany/Turkey, 98 min.

German Turkish auteur Akin (HEAD-ON, THE EDGE OF HEAVEN), one of the most successful practitioners of transnational cinema, brings his considerable storytelling skills to this documentary account of environmental devastation inflicted on the once-lovely seaside town of Çamburnu. The issue is personal to Akin, whose father’s family hails from the town which in 2007 became the site of a massive garbage landfill that polluted the soil, turned water black, filled the air with an overpowering stench, and triggered a general exodus of the population. Akin tells a harrowing, compelling tale of bureaucratic arrogance, false promises, bland reassurances (“The earth will sort it out”), and dogged resistance. Special advance screening courtesy of Strand Releasing. In Turkish with English subtitles. HDCAM video. (MR)

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HONEY

Showtimes

Sun, Sep 16th at 5:00pm
Mon, Sep 17th at 8:00pm
Average: 4.8 (8 votes)
  1. HONEY
  1. (BAL)
  2. 2010, Semih Kaplanoğlu, Turkey, 103 min.
  3. With Bora Altas, Erdal Besikçioğlu

“Spellbinding... It’s the rare director who can imbue the outdoors with a soul of its own.”
—Andy Webster, The New York Times

Turkey’s official Academy Award submission and winner of the Golden Bear (grand prize) at the Berlin Film Festival, HONEY is the stand-alone third panel of director Kaplanoğlu’s celebrated Yusuf trilogy. Proceeding in chronological reverse order, the first two parts, EGG and MILK, dealt with the protagonist’s later adult life as a poet; HONEY deals with his rural childhood. The film centers on the 6-year-old Yusuf’s close relationship with his beekeeper father and his struggles in school. In the classroom, the future poet is painfully tongue-tied, but he finds the roots of his coming eloquence in the deep forests and mighty mountains of Rize Province. In Turkish with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)

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Comments

Lovely film, beautiful cinematography. Reminded me of a lot of other international films of its kind -- Ladri dei Bicicletti [1948], Nuovo Cinema Paradiso [1988], Kolya [1996], Central Station [1998]. http://frdennismoviereviews.blogspot.com/2012/09/honey-orig-bal-2010.html
GSFC Admin note: This link leads to a page outside of our site.

MAJORITY

Showtimes

Sun, Sep 23rd at 3:00pm
Wed, Sep 26th at 8:15pm
Average: 4.6 (8 votes)
  1. MAJORITY
  1. (ÇOGUNLUK)
  2. 2010, Seren Yüce, Turkey, 103 min.
  3. With Bartu Küçükçaglayan, Esme Madra

“A hard slap in the face...one of the best Turkish films of the year.”
—Emine Yildirim, Today’s Zaman

In a rapidly changing, diversifying society, how does the traditional patriarchal order still manage to perpetuate itself? Some answers may be found in this sardonic fable, winner of awards for best first film at the Venice Film Festival and best film at the Mumbai and Antalya film festivals. Mertkan, just turned 21, is the sulking, slacking son of a wealthy Istanbul contractor who bullies his family, his competitors, and anyone else who stands in his way. In his lackadaisical way, Mertkan rebels against his privileged destiny and even takes up with a Kurdish waitress who wants to buck the system, but the will of the majority might ultimately be too strong for both of them. In Turkish with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)

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ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL

Showtimes

Sun, Sep 23rd at 5:00pm
Mon, Sep 24th at 8:00pm
Average: 5 (10 votes)
  1. ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL
  1. (aka LOST IN TRANSLATION)
  2. (IKI DIL BIR BAVUL)
  3. 2008, Ozgur Dogan and Orhan Eskikoy, Turkey, 81 min.
  4. With Emre Aydin

“Exceptional...an irresistible combination of adorable tykes, understated social exposé, and stunning imagery.”
—Ronnie Scheib, Variety

A surprise box-office hit in Turkey, this documentary is notable for its effectively understated treatment of one of the country’s hottest political issues: the marginalization of the sizeable Kurdish minority. With fly-on-the-wall intimacy, the film follows city-bred Emre through his first year of teaching in a remote Kurdish village, as he struggles with culture shock, isolation, and the absurdity of a teacher who speaks no Kurdish attempting to educate students who speak no Turkish. ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL uses humor and tact to make points about the use of education as propaganda, while movingly capturing the human connections that emerge despite the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between two cultures. In Turkish with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)

Please note: The trailer below is not subtitled. Our presentations will be subtitled in English.

See video

LOVE LIKES COINCIDENCES

Showtimes

Sun, Sep 30th at 3:00pm
Wed, Oct 3rd at 8:00pm
Average: 4.9 (14 votes)
  1. LOVE LIKES COINCIDENCES
  1. (ASK TESADUFLERI SEVER)
  2. 2011, Ömer Faruk Sorak, Turkey, 118 min.
  3. With Mehmet Günsür, Belçim Bilgin

The second-highest grossing Turkish film of the year, LOVE LIKES COINCIDENCES is a full-throttle romance in the grand, fate-kissed tradition of AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER and AND NOW, MY LOVE. Aspiring actress Deniz (Bilgin) attends an Istanbul exhibit curated by successful photographer Ozgür and recognizes herself as a child in one of the photos. They discover that their destinies have been linked since the time they were born--on the same day at the same hospital in Ankara. They pursue a romance in spite of Deniz’s possessive fiancé and Ozgür’s heart condition, but fate steps in again when... We won’t give away more, except to wager that the film’s climax will leave you awash in tears, rain, and amazement. In Turkish with English subtitles. HDCAM video. (MR)

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CAN

Showtimes

Sun, Sep 30th at 5:15pm
Mon, Oct 1st at 8:15pm
Average: 5 (6 votes)
  1. CAN
  1. 2011, Rasit Çelikezer, Turkey, 106 min.
  2. With Selen Uçer, Serdar Orcin

Winner of a Special Jury Prize for Artistic Vision at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, CAN, like many key works of recent Turkish cinema, centers on themes of family and masculinity. Young marrieds Ayse and Cemal yearn to have a baby, but, when Cemal discovers he’s sterile, he pressures Ayse into faking a pregnancy while they secretly adopt a baby boy named Can. Writer-director Çelikezer effectively moves back and forth between those events and a second time-frame, set seven years later, when Ayse, scarred by the circumstances of her “maternity” and Cemal’s subsequent desertion, withholds the love that Can so desperately needs. In Turkish with English subtitles. HDCAM video. (MR)

Please note: The trailer below is not subtitled. Both of our screenings will be subtitled in English.

See video