Turks rule at this year’s Venice Film Festival

By Victoria Khroundina | August 18, 2015

Turkish cinema is going from strength to strength year in, year out – and with the recent announcement of this year’s Venice International Film Festival competition entrants and jury members, it looks like things are about to get even rosier.

The first piece of exciting news is that Turkey’s prime export, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, will be a jury member this year. Ceylan, darling of smaller film festivals around the world, has won a plethora of awards, including the prestigious Palme D’Or at last year’s Cannes (for the atmospheric Winter Sleep, set in Cappadocia), and it’s high time he became a jury member at an important festival such as Venice. He joins the Oscar-winning Polish-British director Pawel Pawlikowski, the French author and director Emmanuel Carrere, the Italian director Francesco Munzi and others on the nine-member jury headed by the Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón.

Second piece of exciting news is that the rising director Emin Alper’s sophomore feature Abluka (Frenzy) is one of 20 films vying for the festival’s main award, the Golden Lion. A co-production between Turkey, France and Qatar, the film is financially supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Council of Europe’s co-production fund Eurimages. The story follows two estranged brothers, one recently released from prison, as they struggle to survive against a backdrop of political violence in Istanbul. The actors Mehmet Özgür and Berkay Ateş lead what looks like an excellent cast in a two-hour film that promises to be gritty and poignant, with a stark colour palette and intimate cinematography, a sure-fire way to succeed at a film festival these days.

The film’s competition includes The Danish Girl, from The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper, the American-Japanese director Cary Fukunaga’s latest offering, Beasts of No Nation, the French director Xavier Giannoli’s upcoming comedy-drama Marguerite, and the Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov’s Francofonia, as well as many others. Turkish cinemagoers will be able to see Abluka in theatres this autumn. You can watch a teaser below.

And finally, a documentary about Orhan Pamuk’s book Museum of Innocence and its museum in Çukurcuma will have its world premiere at the festival. The film, Innocence of Memories, directed by Grant Gee (known for his documentaries about the British band Radiohead), will be screened as part of Venice Days. 

‘I wrote a 30-minute long original script,’ Pamuk told Hürriyet Daily News in late July. ‘The new text tells the love story in Museum of Innocence from the eye of a secondary character. I do not tell which character it is now, but it will be in Venice… The documentary is both about the Museum of Innocence and Istanbul. My other books also take place in the documentary.’ Check out the trailer below.

The 72nd Venice International Film Festival will be held between September 2 and 12, 2015.

Main image shows a still from Abluka.

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