Nuri Ceylan: From Turkey with love

CANNES – Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan returned to the Cannes film festival Thursday offering a breather from a slew of hard-hitting movies on social themes with a highly personal family drama. Ceylan, almost 40 and already winner of a batch of awards for his first four features, is regarded as one of the most distinctive film-makers of the last decade. His latest offering, «Three Monkeys,» is his third appearance in competition at Cannes and the director is tipped as a front-runner among the 22 films vying for the festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or award. «The film is about life, about many things, about the inner world,» he said in an interview. «I don’t make films on this or that as that is too didactic. And by the time I’ve ended a film the idea may have changed.» Ceylan, maker of «Uzak» and «Climates,» is a master of psychological subtlety and intimacy, shooting meticulously beautiful images helped by his use of high-definition digital video. «Digital is easier to edit, cheaper and gives you more control over the level of acting,» he told AFP. «My style is to have lots of material, I like to shoot the same scene several times, with an actor perhaps crying in one scene and then laughing in the next. Then I decide which I like best.» In «Three Monkeys,» Ceylan focuses his camera on four characters, a couple and their son plus the husband’s boss, showing how the family opts to stick together by playing blind, deaf and dumb to problems that should in all logic split them apart. «I find the family quite tragic in life, it’s one of the most tragic things in life,» he told AFP. «I suffered a lot from that. I feel that in a family what they live is a summary of society, of life. «In life people often behave as if they didn’t see, didn’t hear, didn’t say. That is how we protect ourselves so as not to suffer.» After two days of hard-hitting films focussing on global issues and social problems, Ceylan, along with France’s first entry «A Christmas Tale,» struck a different note, at the festival. The French film, the first of three competing for the Palme, is a two-and-a-half-hour tale starring Catherine Deneuve and her daughter Chiara Mastroianni, which is also about family conflict but unlike Ceylan’s, peppered with people and sub-plots. Leading the as-yet small field of competitors for the Palme so far is an explosive Israeli anti-war animation documentary, «Waltz With Bashir» by Ari Folman, according to critics quoted in trade magazine Screen. It is followed by Argentinean film «Lion’s Den» by Pablo Trapero, about life in a women’s prison, and «Blindness» by Brazil’s Fernando Meirelles, a grim apocalyptic story about a city struck by an epidemic of blindness.