Golden Tulip up for grabs in Istanbul

ISTANBUL – Celebrating its 27th anniversary, the Istanbul Film Festival is relatively young compared to other big film events around the world. The festivals of Cannes, Venice, Berlin and even Thessaloniki go further back. Yet organizers in Istanbul work very hard, are very passionate about cinema and year after year manage to improve their position on the international arena of film happenings. The pre-festival events kicked off on April 5 and the full program went into effect on April 10. Since the start of the festival, the city’s main streets have acquired a colorful film vibe. Banners with the event’s poster, featuring a human body wrapped in film, are everywhere. But not much needed to be done to attract the attention of the public – on the contrary, an interesting program sufficed to keep the screening halls full. It is very interesting to observe what is happening in Istanbul. On the one hand, one gets the impression of a conservative state with deep-rooted religious beliefs, which of course does exist. On the other hand, there is a strong section of young people who follow what is happening in the rest of the world, are seeking different things and want to participate. These people don’t necessarily just accept what is presented to them. Outside the five venues hosting the screenings, which are the Fitas, Emek, Atlas, Beyoglu and Rexx halls, one can often see kids discussing the films they have just seen and even arguing over them. The program features mostly Turkish productions, which very often provide pleasant surprises. Such is the case of Huseyin Karabey’s «My Marlon and Brando,» an unusual road movie about a love story that goes on despite the war and the prejudices that the leading characters have to deal with. There is a strong emphasis on the characters’ feelings by director Karabey, who has filmed many documentaries about human rights. A woman, Ayca, falls in love with a Kurdish actor who has to return to his homeland in Iraq, but then war breaks out. Ayca attempts what for most people is unthinkable: She takes a reverse journey and tries to reach her loved one. The festival’s competition section features 12 films that compete for the grand prix, the Golden Tulip. A variety of well-known filmmakers are participating, including Michel Gondry with his «Be Kind Rewind,» John Sayles with «Honeydripper» and Iceland’s Baltasar Kormakur with «Jar City» and are up against younger directors. Apart from the official national and international program, the festival pays particular attention to tributes. There are various tributes to the way human rights are depicted in cinema, a selection of films that have been screened at international festivals, films by independent American and other filmmakers and more personalized events. This year’s honorary personalities are director Milos Forman and Marc Caro, an old collaborator of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s in films like «Delicatessen.» The festival kicked off with the striking presence of a legendary international movie star. Italian diva Claudia Cardinale received an honorary award at the 27th Istanbul Film Festival opening ceremony. As she received her prize, Cardinale remembered some of the highlights of her career and singled out Luchino Visconti’s «Il Gattopardo» as a film that marked her career in cinema. «Thanks to that movie, I was able to do a lot of films in Hollywood and all over the world,» she said. «I enjoyed working with big names like Alain Delon and Burt Lancaster. Everything in that movie was important, including Piero Tosi’s costumes. Even the corset I had to wear every night after the end of filming was stained by my blood.»

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