A Festival Has Arrived in the City: 10 Films from the Istanbul Film Festival

Organized for the 41st time this year, the Istanbul Film Festival brings together the latest films by master directors from Turkey and the world, cult films and productions that won awards from festivals.

Hundreds of audiences who even remember that movie they saw as a child, filmmakers, directors, screenwriters, actors, light artists, costume designers and sound technicians, movie writers, film distributors, and even though their numbers have decreased, we still see them in some movie theaters… their common passion is to see good films and sometimes to be able to say “I saw them at the festival” while talking about these films. The 41st Istanbul Film Festival brings the films of 163 directors from 43 countries together with cinema lovers until 20 April. Here are some of the films that you can say “I saw at the Istanbul Film Festival”.

“Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush” by Andreas Dresen

“Rabiye Kurnaz Against George W. Bush”, which tells the story of Murat Kurnaz, who was detained without an indictment at the US Guantanamo Base in Cuba between 2002-2006, through the eyes of his mother Rabiye Kurnaz, was screened at the 72nd Berlin Film Festival. While receiving the Best Screenplay Award, Meltem Kaplan won the Best Lead Actor Award. “Rabiye Kurnaz Against George W. Bush”, the opening film of the Berlin Film Festival, was also the opening film of the 41st Istanbul Film Festival.

Those who missed the screening on April 11 can watch the additional screening at the Pera Museum Auditorium on April 20.

“Alcarràs” by Carla Simon

Returning with the Golden Bear Award from the 72nd Berlin Film Festival, “Alcarràs” is the first Catalan film to receive this award at the festival. Featuring completely amateur actors, the film tells the story of the Solé family, who have been harvesting peaches on their land in the village of Alcarràs in Catalonia for generations. The family is in danger of cutting down the peach trees and replacing them with solar panels. Through this danger, the director reflects the intimate and touching nature of family ties, through a modern narrative, based on traditional Catalonia. Simón won the 2017 Istanbul Film Festival Special Jury Award with his movie “Estiu 1993”.

“Alcarràs” will be screened on Wednesday, April 13 at Cinewam City’s Kadıköy Cinema on Wednesday, April 7 and 20.

“Vortex” by Gaspar Noé

“Vortex”, which premiered in Cannes like Gaspar Noé’s previous films, opens the director’s perspective shaped after his brain hemorrhage and Covid experience to the audience as a personal window. Using the split-screen technique from start to finish, the film focuses on the last days of a loving couple suffering from old age. Gaspar Noé dedicates his film to “all the people who lost their minds before they lost their hearts”.

“Vortex”, which won the Best Film Award from the 2022 Dublin Film Festival, will be screened in theaters in Kadıköy, Atlas 1948 and Cinewam City’s 7 between 17-20 April.

“Coma” by Bertrand Bonello

Director Bertarand Bonello’s “Coma”, one of the best films ever made about the epidemic, absorbs the social and ecological concerns triggered by the curfews brought by the epidemic and reflects it on the screen. The film, which oscillates between the connection between dream and reality by young Patricia Coma, who has the ability to immerse people in her dreams, also opens a window to the relationship of today’s youth with the virtual world. “Coma,” an almost abstract mixed-media fantasy fantasy, is what philosopher Deleuze said, “Never go into someone else’s dream, it can be dangerous.” inspired by his word.

“Coma” will be screened at Beyoğlu Cinema, Cinematheque and Cinewam City’s 7 movie theaters on April 14, 16 and 17.

“Benediction” by Terence Davies

“Benediction” chronicles the turbulent life of the First World War poet Siegfried Sassoon through the eyes of director Terence Davies, known for his poetic cinema. Sassoon, who fought against the German forces in the First World War, was awarded the Iron Cross for his courage. However, after returning from the front, Sassoon, who criticized the government’s policy of continuing the war, made his mark in history as an anti-war war hero. The director takes a deep perspective on the private life of the poet, who searches for himself in a shattered world.

The film won the 2022 Dublin Best Screenplay Award and the 2022 International Cinephile Society awards for Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

“A Night We Know Nothing” by Payal Kapadia

Set out with letters written by L, who is studying at a film school in India, to his estranged girlfriend, “One Night We Know Nothing”, proceeds by showing how letters cause fundamental changes in L’s environment. This documentary film, where reality mixes with dreams, memories, fantasies and fiction, also brings a critical perspective to India’s social life and education policies that yield to chauvinism. “A Night We Know Nothing” is included in the selection of “Instead of Being a Great Tree Covered with Sweet Ripe Fruits: 17th Istanbul Biennial” prepared as part of the Film Festival.

“A Night We Know Nothing” won the Best Documentary Award at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

“The Blind Man Who Doesn’t Want to Watch Titanic” by Teemu Nikki

Filmed from the perspective of a blind man and set with a humorous narrative, “The Blind Man Who Doesn’t Want to Watch the Titanic” is an action-thriller that tells the extraordinary story of the main character, who goes through all kinds of hardships to reunite with the woman he loves. When Jaakko, a wheelchair-bound, disabled and blind movie buff, is shaken by the news of his long-lost love, Sirpa, he decides to go to her urgently, but for this he needs the help of five strangers at five different stages of his journey: from home to a taxi, from a taxi to a station, from a station to a train. , from train to taxi and finally from taxi to Sirpa…

Petri Poikolainen, the lead actor of the movie, won the Best Actor Award at the 2021 Antalya Film Festival.

Little Palestine” by Abdallah Al-Khatib

Directed by Abdallah Al-Khatib, “Little Palestine” focuses on the daily lives of camp residents under siege in Yarmouk, a district of Palestine  that hosted the world’s largest Palestinian refugee camp from 1957 to 2018. Peace activist director Abdallah Al-Khatib lived in this camp until his deportation in 2015, filming and documenting daily life in Yarmouk from 2011 to 2015. These images he took formed the basis of this film, which premiered at Visions du Réel in 2021.

“Atlantis” by Yuri Ancarani

Italian director Yuri Ancarani presents the course of Venice flowing like water between gondolas and water channels, with the story of a young man named Daniele who lives on an island near the Venetian lagoon. Daniele, who is a speed enthusiast like many of her peers, lives with dreams of owning a “barchino” (water engine) that she will one day break records with, while everything she tries for this cause backfires and her story desperately moves towards a bad end. Blending documentary cinema with contemporary art, the film by Italian director Yuri Ancarani, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, is based on observations spanning four years and dialogues taken from real life.

Atlantis” won the 2022 Luxembourg Best Picture and 2021 Denver Maysles Brothers Best Documentary awards.

“Look At The Living” by Mike Mills

A touching and heartwarming road tale, “Look Alive” chronicles a journey from New York to New Orleans, including journalist Johnny’s little nephew, who sets out to interview the nation’s youth. Joaquin Phoenix, the actor of the TV series “Transparent” and “Girls” plays the leading roles in the movie, while in the director’s chair we see Mike Mills, whom we know from the films “Beginners” and “Thumbsucker”.

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