Sep 12, 2012

16th Sept 2012: Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
A film by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey/2011/Col/150 mins
16th Sept 2012; 5.45pm
Perks Mini Theater

Nuri Bilge Ceylan is one of the most significant moviemakers to have emerged this century, an original figure in his own right and a major force in reviving a belief in the kind of serious, ambitious, morally concerned European art-house cinema that was taken to new heights by Bergman, Tarkovsky, Antonioni and Angelopoulos. His finest work to date, ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’, is a carefully controlled masterpiece.
 As the title suggests, it's a sort of fable with a very specific location in the Asian part of his native land. The action extends over a single, rainy, sleepless night and into a grim morning at the workplace.

A convoy of official vehicles, containing police officers, the state prosecutor, a medical examiner and guys with shovels are accompanying two prisoners out into the eerie expanse of the Anatolian steppe: the plain where Asia reaches west into Iran, Armenia and Turkey. The men are murder suspects, but are evidently about to plead guilty and, perhaps in a sentencing deal, have promised to lead officers to a body.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who wrote the screenplay along with his wife, Ebru Ceylan and the actor Kesal, has another essential collaborator: his regular cinematographer, Gohkan Tiryaki, who brilliantly uses light as a storytelling tool. From the car beams and lanterns of the night to the clinical glare of the autopsy room, the bare facts of the case emerge from the shadows, and the essential mystery deepens: How little we know of the inner lives of those around us.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan, one of Turkey's best directors, has a deep understanding of human nature. He loves his characters and empathizes with them. They deserve better than to be shuttled around in a facile plot. They deserve empathy. So do we all.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Born in Bakırköy, Istanbul on 26 January 1959, Nuri Bilge Ceylan spent his childhood in Yenice, his father's hometown in the North Aegean province of Çanakkale. His father, an agricultural engineer. In 1976, having graduated from high school, Nuri Bilge began studying chemical engineering at Istanbul Technical University. In 1978, then switched courses to electrical engineering at Boğaziçi University.
The university's extensive library and music archive played a significant role in fuelling his passion for the visual arts and classical music in particular. Meanwhile, the elective film studies course he took with Üstün Barışta and the film club's special screenings did much to reinforce his love of cinema, which had taken root earlier during showings at the Cinémathèque in Istanbul's Taksim.
His travels in the east and west first in London, then in Kathmandu lasted months and on return to Turkey he had to do his military service. After that he started studying film at Mimar Sinan University andtook commercial photographs as a means of livelihood.He began by acting in a short film and then bought the Arriflex 2B camera. By the end of 1993, he began shooting the short film KOZA (Cocoon), which became the first Turkish short to be selected to be sreened at Cannes in May 1995 and.
 Three full-length feature films followed.They have also been described by some as his 'provincial trilogy': KASABA (The Small Town, 1997), MAYIS SIKINTISI (Clouds of May, 1999) and UZAK (Distant, 2002). In all of these films, Ceylan enlisted his close friends, relatives and family as actors and took on just about every technical role himself. When UZAK, the final film of the trilogy, won the Grand Prix at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, Ceylan suddenly became an internationally recognized.
In 2006 Climates was  premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and also got the FIPRESCI Prize. The lead roles in this film were shared by Nuri Bilge and his wife Ebru Ceylan. Competing at the 61st Cannes Film Festival with his 2008 film Three Monkeys, Nuri Bilge won the Best Director award. In 2009, the director returned to Cannes, this time as a member of the main competition jury. In 2011, his film "ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA" won the Grand Prix again at Cannes Film Festival.

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