New and Newer Tales from Turkey
May 4 - June 4
From May 4 through June 4, the Gene Siskel Film Center, in collaboration with the Consulate General of Turkey in Chicago, and the Yunus Emre Enstitusu, the Turkish cultural institute in Washington, D.C., presents five films representing Turkey’s popular cinema. We bookend the series with two engaging new historical dramas, TURKISH ICE CREAM and ÇIÇERO, both U.S. premieres. This sampler of a versatile national cinema also includes: science fiction in a philosophical mode (GRAIN); a prize-winning drama of struggle and redemption in the mountains of northern Turkey (COLD OF KALANDAR); and the most successful box-office hit in Turkish cinema history (MY FATHER AND MY SON).
For their generous assistance in making this series possible, the Gene Siskel Film Center thanks: Umut Acar, Consul General of Turkey, Chicago; and Halid Bulut, Executive Director, Yunus Emre Enstitusu.
Turkish Ice Cream
Türk İşi Dondurma
2019, Can Ulkay, Turkey,123 min.
With Ali Atay, Erkan Köstendil
In this new film by the director of AYLA: THE DAUGHTER OF WAR, two Afghan immigrants, Mehmet (Atay) and Ali (Köstendil), are making a peaceful living in the year 1915, operating a popular ice cream cart in an Australian outpost. Meanwhile, the Great War rages abroad, and the Allies turn their attention to Turkey. A story initially lightened by comic pratfalls, a budding romance, and a fracas around the fate of a tame camel gives way to a darker theme when a buffoonish British commander (Will Thorpe) arrives in the town to hustle colonial recruitment, and incidentally seeks to stoke anti-Turk sentiment to the flash point. Lives and livelihood threatened, the two entrepreneurs attempt a return home to Turkey, but authorities block the way. With nothing to lose, Mehmet and Ali prepare to take a fateful last stand. In Turkish and English with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
2017, Semih Kaplanoğlu, Turkey/Germany/France, 129 min.
With Jean-Marc Barr, Ermin Bravo
“The images are rarely less than sublime…a commendably ambitious, visually stunning piece of cinematic art.”
—Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter
Working in a mystical sci-fi vein reminiscent of Andrei Tarkovsky, director Kaplanoğlu (Berlin Golden Bear-winner for HONEY) crafts an eerily dystopian fable with roots in present-day fears over genetically modified seeds, climate change, and the global refugee crisis. In an unspecified near future, enclaves protected by lethal electronic barriers contain selected populations, protecting them from immigrants from the deadlands who come in search of food, water, and safety. While civil unrest prevails in light of diminishing food supplies, Professor Erol Erin (Barr) goes in pursuit of maverick scientist Akman (Bravo), whose controversial theories may hold the key to the apocalyptic devastation wracking the globe. In English. DCP digital. (BS)
Cold of Kalandar
2015, Mustafa Kara, Turkey/Hungary, 132 min.
With Haydar Sisman, Nuray Yesilarez
“Intense…powerful, slow-burning and beautifully-hewn.”—Jonathan Holland, Hollywood Reporter
The rugged landscape of northern Turkey, over four seasons, provides a spectacular mountain backdrop to the heartrending but hopeful story of one man’s undying dream to better his life. His neighbors work in the local mine or eke out a living from the stony land, but Mehmet (Sisman) persists in lofty get-rich-quick schemes, even as his little family slides further into poverty and his worked-to-the-bone wife begins to despair. Solitary expeditions to prospect for silver and copper fail, and an attempt to train the family bull as a prize-winning fighter ends in humiliation, but, just as all seems lost, director Kara brings a hint of the supernatural and a startling infusion of grace and redemption to this tale. Winner of four awards in the 2015 Istanbul International Film Festival, including Best Actor for Sisman. In Turkish with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
My Father and My Son
Babam ve Oğlum
2005, Çagan Irmak, Turkey, 108 min.
With Çetin Tekindor, Fikret Kuskan
“I have never seen a better ensemble of actors perform together…their chemistry gives life to every scene.”
—Arun Krishnan, Asian Movie Pulse
A military coup in progress indirectly causes the death of a young mother in childbirth, leaving her grief-stricken husband, journalist Sadik (Kuskan), alone with his newborn son. The eternal strife between fathers and sons is the theme of this highest-grossing film in Turkish history, named among the top thirty Turkish films of all time. Years pass, and Sadik moves back to his family’s farm with his ten-year-old boy Deniz. There he confronts his own father Huseyin (Tekindor), with whom he has never made peace following the 1980 coup. Director Irmak movingly portrays the interplay of male egos across the generations, as father, son, brother, and grandson renegotiate the work of being a family. In Turkish with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
2019, Serdar Akar, Turkey, 126 min.
With Erdal Besikçioglu, Burcu Bircik
This WWII spy adventure is based on the true story (also the subject of the 1952 film 5 FINGERS by Joseph L. Mankiewicz) of the Serbian-born Albanian Turk Ilyas Bazna (Besikçioglu), who worked for the Nazis in Ankara, but whose cloak-and dagger career has long been shrouded in speculation and conjecture. Director Akar takes the mythic route in this colorful period drama, tracing Bazna’s life from the traumatic wartime incident that shaped his childhood to the talent for singing opera that, as an adult, provided him with an all-important foot in the door in diplomatic social circles. Taciturn and trustworthy-seeming, he is hired as a valet by the British ambassador, and is soon relaying copies of sensitive documents to Nazi security agent Ludwig Moyzisch for cash. Loyalties become complicated when Bazna falls for Cornelia Kapp (Bircik), secretary to the German ambassador, who hides a dangerous secret: she is the mother of a child with mental disabilities who has been targeted for extermination under Nazi policies. In Turkish, German, and English with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)