Festival Director Nalan Cebeci says the program aims to introduce Australian audiences to the vibrant culture of Turkish cinema.
‘On the back of the recent international resurgence of Turkish cinema, the six films (in Turkish with English subtitles) will appeal to the 250,000 or so Turkish speakers in Australia as well as non- Turkish speakers interested in taking part in this wonderful cultural exchange.’ Cebeci said.
‘As our two nations commemorate the ANZAC centenary, we also come together to acknowledge our cultural and historic ties, and to build future relationships between filmmakers and industry stakeholders from Turkey and Australia.’
The Festival opens with action-packed historical romance Last Letter (Son Mektup) from writer, producer and director Özhan Eren. Set in Gallipoli during WWI, Last Letter follows the budding romance between a pilot and a nurse who were originally brought together to save a young orphan boy during an English air raid.
Leading lady of Turkish cinema Nesrin Cavadzade plays the role off Nurse Nihal. Cavadzade received the best actress award at the 2014 Antalya Film Festival – considered the Oscars of Turkey.
Considered an expert on the Caucasus Campaign of WWI, Özhan Eren is the author of the best- selling novel The Road to Sarikamis, which led him to making the box-office success 120. He will be appearing at the Festival’s opening night screening and celebrations along with Turkish singer Yonca Lodi who will perform the film’s title song Until Eternity.
Turkish romance continues on the big screen with veteran director Nesli Colgecen’s latest offering Let the Band Play (Calsin Sazlar). Colgecen, whose award-winning films include The Broken Landlord and Selamsiz Band, will be attending the screening along with his leading man Caner Cindoruk – a well-known Turkish actor who has recently finished filming the popular TV series Between You and Me.
Offering a further example of the Turkish-Australian connection, the film’s female star Belcim Bilgin is married to Yilmaz Erdogan, who won the AACTA for best supporting actor in The Water Diviner. The pair is considered the power couple of Turkish cinema.
The cinematic delights of Turkish romance and comedy are also on display with Mix Tape (Karisik Kaset) and Once Upon a Time (Bir varmis bir Yokmus) starring Melisa Sozen who played the lead in 2014 Palme D’Or winner Winter Sleep.
Family drama and coming-of-age stories round out the program with Until I Lose My Breath (Nefesim Kesilene Kadar) and the uplifting adventure Snow Pirates (Kar Korsanlar), which had its world premiere in the Generation programme of the 65th Berlin Film Festival.
Directors attending the Festival in Melbourne include Nesli Çolgeçen (Let the Band Play), Özhan Eren (The Last Letter), Faruk Hacihafɩzoğlu (Snow Pirates), first time director Tunç Şahin (Mix Tape) and Ilksen Başarir (Once Upon a Time).
Presented with the support of the Republic of Turkey Ministry and Culture and Tourism General Directorate of Cinema.
OPENING FILM - SON MEKTUP (LAST LETTER)
)Screening: Sydney Thursday 16 April
Writer/Director: Özhan Eren (2015) 122 mins.
Cast: Tansel Öngel, Nesrin Cavadzade, Hüseyinavni Danyal, Bülent Sakrak Genre: History Action Romance Drama
In the heat of the most violent and terrifying days of WWI, one of the first Ottoman pilots, Captain Salih Ekrham (Tansel Öngel), helps save a young orphan boy named Fuat during an English air raid at Gallipoli. Fuat takes shelter under the wing of nurse Nihal (Nesrin Cavadzade) and becomes the uniting force that brings Salih and Nihal together. When Nihal is required to return to Istanbul, the bond between the pilot and the nurse defies the conditions of war and blossoms into a great love ‘expressed in letters’.
KARISIK KASET (MIXTAPE)
Screening: Sydney Friday 17 April Director: Tunç Şahin (2014) 106mins. Cast: Sarp Apak, Özge Özpirinçci Genre: Romantic Comedy
Istanbul 1990. Thirteen-year-old music aficionado Ulaş (Sarp Apak) is in love with the girl next door, İrem (Özge Özpirinçci). Sweet but shy Ulaş hatches a plan to confess his love to İrem with a Mixtape of Turkish pop songs. It will take two decades and the best of Turkish pop music before Ulas can make his musical declaration of love.
CALSIN SAZLAR (LET THE BAND PLAY)
Screening: Sydney Saturday 18 April
Writer/Director: Nesli Çolgeçen (2014) 97 mins.
Cast: Belçim Bilgin, Engin Hepileri, Caner Cindoruk
Genre: Comedy Romance Drama
Istanbul 1960. Two dreamers, Greek meyhane (wine bar) owner Barba (Engin Hepileri) and his best friend, clarinet player, Mahir (Caner Cindoruk), are enjoying life with music and raki washing away any concerns of the conflict brewing between Greeks and Turks. When the sultry and vivacious singer Yasemin (Belcim Bilgin) enters their lives a passionate love triangle is formed with potentially tragic consequences.
Let the Band Play recalls memories of a multicultural society that once inhabited Istanbul and pays homage to the now-withering meyhanes that brought people from different walks of life together.
• Thursday 23 April: SON MEKTUP (LAST LETTER)
• Friday 24 April: KAR KORSANLAR (SNOW PIRATES)
• Saturday 25 April: NEFESIM KESILENE KADAR (UNTIL I LOSE MY BREATH)
• Saturday 25 April: KARISIK KASET (MIXTAPE)
• Sunday 26 April: BIR VARMIS BIR YOKMUS (ONCE UPON A TIME)
• Sunday 26 April: CALSIN SAZLAR (LET THE BAND PLAY)