ISTANBUL: The 32nd Istanbul Film Festival held from 30 March to 14 April 2013 finished last night after a tumultuous two weeks that saw protests over the closure of the historic Emek Cinema theatre that included festival guests Costa-Gavras and Mike Newell as well as the arrest of Turkish film critic Berke Gol.
The jury for the international competition headed by prominent director Peter Weir awarded the main prize, the Golden Tulip, to the film What Richard Did directed by Lenny Abrahamson. The prize is awarded in memory of long time supporter of the festival Sakir Eczacibasi and carries a cash prize of 25,000 EUR. A special Jury Prize was awarded to Camille Claudel 1915 directed by Bruno Dumont. The jury also included cricit Mark Adams, Director Sebastain Lelio, Turkish actress Simin Gatemeh Motamed Arya and Polish director Malgoska Szumowska. Weir also received the Honourary Award of the Festival for lifetime achievement.
The Turkish national competition has become a weather vane for spotting new Turkish talent and this year the festival screened 10 new Turkish films, six of the world premiers. The prize from best film went to Thou Gild’st The Even directed by Onur Unlu which carried a cash prize of 150,000 TL. The prize was presented to the producers of the film Orkun Unlu and Funda Alp. The film also scooped a number of other prizes including the international critics FIPRESCI prize and prizes for Best Screenplay and Editing.
While the awards were given out on Sunday night at the Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall the biggest buzz was still around the protests earlier in the festival over the closure of the Emek Cinema which had earlier been one of the main festival venues until its closure in 2009. The historic Emek which is slated to be torn down and reconstructed on the second floor of a new shopping centre on the site in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district has been the subject of ongoing protests for some time.
But the march on 7 April which included a number of festival participants turned into a violent clash when the protesters attempted to enter the closed cinema. Police reacted by attacking the protesters with water cannon and tear gas. Film critic Berke Gol who was also a member of one of the festival juries was arrested but was subsequently released. The festival condemned the police action against the protesters with a statement on its website saying “We strongly condemn the intervention against cinephiles who had in mind nothing but to embrace Istanbul’s cultural memory.”
The protesters meanwhile vowed to continue their protests and march again. Interior Minister Muammer Guler has announced that an investigation has been launched to see whether police units used disproportionate force against the protesters.
The Emek Theatre was built in the 1880’s and has been a cinema theatre since 1924. It is considered an important part of Turkey’s cultural heritage by cinephiles and the city’s cultural community.
List of Prize Winners
Best Film: What Richard Did directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Special Jury Prize:Camille Claudel 1915 directed by Bruno Dumont
Turkish National Competition:
Best FilmThou Gild’st The Even directed by Onur Unlu.
Best Director:Asli Ozge for Lifelong
Special Jury Prize in Memory of Onat KutlarThe Cycle directed by Dervis Zaim
Best ActressSema Poyraz for her role in Forgive Me directed by Cemil Agacikoglu
Best ActorErcan Kesal for his role in Yozgat Blues directed by Mahmut Fazil Coskun
Best ScreenplayOnur Unlu for Thou Gild’st The Even which he also directed
Best DoPEmre Erkmen for Lifelong
Best Music Murat Basaran for Cold directed by Ugur Yucel
Best EditingEmre Boyraz for Thou Gild’st The Even
Seyfi Teoman Best Bebut Film AwardNobody’s Home directed by Deniz Akcay Katiksiz
Council of Europe (FACE) Award for Human RightsPatience Stone directed by Atiq RahimiFACE Special MentionAn Episode in the Life of An Iron Picker directed by Danis Tanovic
FIPRESCI International Critics AwardsNational CompetitionThou Gild’st The Even
International CompetitionCamille Claudel 1915
Radikal Newspaper People’s Choice Awards
International CompetitionHouse with a Turret directed by Eva Neymann
National CompetitionNobody’s Home directed by Deniz Akcay Katiksiz