FESTIVALS: 28th Istanbul International Film Festival Gives Preview of 2009

By Anna Franklin in Istanbul
    ISTANBUL: The only problem for Turkish film in 2009 will be that after the extraordinary success of 2008 with Turkish films sweeping prizes at most major international festivals it will be a touch act to follow.

    Against this backdrop the critics and fest programmers were out in force to look over the new crop of Turkish films at this year's Istanbul International Film Festival (http://www.iksv.org/) held from 4-19 April. With over 50 feature films produced in Turkey this year there was plenty to choose from.

    Inevitably a number of prizes went to films already seen on last year's international fest circuit such as the international critics' FIPRESCI Award which went to SÜT / MILK by Semih Kaplanoğlu (Turkey-France-Germany) in the international competition and HAYAT VAR / MY ONLY SUNSHINE directed by Reha Erdem which won the national award.

    But there were also new discoveries such as the international premier of 10 to 11 the debut feature of Pelin Esmer who had an international fest hit with her doc Oyun (The Play) in 2005. Produced by Sinefilm (Turkey) and producer Nida Karabol the film is a moving tale of the relationship between pensioner and obsessive collector Mr Mithat and the concierge of his building Ali.

    Another film that looks fest bound is KÖPRÜDEKİLER / MEN ON THE BRIDGE directed by Aslı Özge and produced by Endorphine Production GmbH (Germany) and coproduced by Yeni Sinemacilik (Turkey). The film traces the lives of Fikret, Umut and Murat three Istanbul inhabitants whose lives intersect on the busy Bosphorus Bridge.

    Turkish film has maintained its strong hold on the domestic box dominating it as it has for the past five years and box office has actually risen in the first part of 2009 despite the severe effects of the global economic crisis that has hit the Turkish economy. But what effect the crisis will have on producers in 2009 remains to be seen.


    April 4-19, 2009


    The International Jury of the 28th International Istanbul Film Festival presided over by director Goran Paskaljevic and composed of film critic Mike Goodridge, Managing Director of Holland Film President of the European Film Promotion and member of the selection committee for the Competition Programme of the Berlin International Film Festival Claudia Landsberger, director Cristian Mungiu and director Ümit Ünal has decided to give the:

    • Golden Tulip to TONY MANERO directed by Pablo Larraín, which the jury felt was a highly original portrait of life under an oppressive political regime, and which is shocking, funny and moving.
    • Special Jury Prize to A FILM WITH ME IN IT directed by Ian Fitzgibbon, which the jury thought was that rare comedy which keeps you laughing from beginning to end with its unusual story and dark, dark humour.


    The National Jury of the 28th International Istanbul Film Festival presided over by director Kutluğ Ataman, and composed of consultant editor of the TimeOut Film Guide Geoff Andrew, author Ayşe Kulin, producer Zeynep Özbatur, Sarajevo Film Festival Director Mirsad Purivatra and actress Bennu Yıldırımlar has decided to give:

    • the Golden Tulip Best Film Award to KÖPRÜDEKİLER / MEN ON THE BRIDGE directed by Aslı Özge;
    • the Best Director Award to MAHMUT FAZIL COŞKUN for his film Uzak İhtimal / Wrong Rosary.

    The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey gave a monetary prize of 50,000 TL to each of the above-mentioned winners.

    • the Best Actress Award to DERYA ALABORA for her performance in Pandora'nın Kutusu / Pandora's Box;
    • the Best Actor Award to NADİR SARIBACAK for his performance in Uzak İhtimal / Wrong Rosary.

    The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey gave a monetary prize of 10,000 TL to each of the above-mentioned winners.

    • the Best Screenplay Award to TARIK TUFAN, GÖRKEM YELTAN, BEKTAŞ TOPALOĞLU for their screenplay for Uzak İhtimal / Wrong Rosary;
    • the Best Director of Photography Award to ÖZGÜR EKEN for his work in Süt / Milk;
    • the Best Music Award to NAİL YURTSEVER for his work for Ali'nin Sekiz Günü / Ali's Eight Days;
    • the Special Prize of the Jury to 11'E 10 KALA / 10 TO 11 by Pelin Esmer.


    The FACE Award (Council of Europe Film Award) is presented to the director of a film that arises public awareness and interest in human rights issues, creates better understanding of their importance, and best reflects the Council's values of respect for human rights, individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law. The award includes a sculpture in bronze and a cash prize of Euro 10,000. It is awarded as part of the Human Rights in Cinema section of the festival. The Human Rights Jury of the 28th International İstanbul Film Festival is composed of Producer and President of the Promotion WG at Eurimages Peter Gustafsson, director Hüseyin Karabey, Director of Standard-Setting at the Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs of the Council of Europe Jan Kleijssen, and actress Serra Yılmaz decided to give:

    • the FACE AWARD to BIRDWATCHERS by Marco Bechis (Italy-Brazil). In today's expanding world respect for native populations and minorities is essential. By conveying this important message in a very well-constructed story, BIRDWATCHERS describes the complexities of a changing society. It should inspire other filmmakers to address human rights issues by telling original and compelling stories.
    • the Special Jury Prize to FIRAAQ by Nandita Das (India) for courageously dealing with the sensitive theme of religious intolerance and sectarian strife. Showing terrible consequences, it also conveys a message of hope, demonstrating that people can make choices.


    The FIPRESCI Jury of the 28th International Istanbul Film Festival presided over by Rüdiger Suchsland and composed of Senem Aytaç, Francisco Ferreira, Giorgio Gosetti, Burçin Yalçın and Alexander Yanakiev gave:

    • The FIPRESCI Award in the International Competition to "SÜT / MILK" by Semih Kaplanoğlu (Turkey-France-Germany).
    • The FIPRESCI Award in the National Competition, in memory of Onat Kutlar, to "HAYAT VAR / MY ONLY SUNSHINE" directed by Reha Erdem.

    Both awarded films deal with the experiences of the world in front of them and have their feet on the ground. But they admit that reality can be transformed and transgressed into the world of utopia and desire. For all the films we have seen in both competitions, Semih Kaplanoğlu's MILK and Reha Erdem's MY ONLY SUNSHINE are those who by far best represent a New Turkish Cinema, that is not self-centred or captured, and enhance the possibilities of universal cinematographic aesthetics and answer to the essential questions of human life.

    As in the previous years, Efes Pilsen has given a prize of US$ 30.000 to the winner of the Onat Kutlar Prize, Reha Erdem, to be used for his next film project.


    People's Choice Awards sponsored by the Radikal Newspaper and determined by the votes of the Festival audience, are given to:

    • SÜT / MILK by Semih Kaplanoğlu (Turkey-France-Germany) in the International Competition, and
    • BAŞKA SEMTİN ÇOCUKLARI / CHILDREN OF THE OTHER SIDE by Aydın Bulut in the National Competition.



    Organised for the first time within the Meetings on the Bridge series of seminars, the Feature Film Project Development Workshop Award was given to Hüseyin Karabey for his project SESİME GEL! / COME TO MY VOICE!. Twelve projects remained from the 86 applications after the pre-selection by Nida Karabol, Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Ümit Ünal and Isabelle Fauvel. From among these 12 projects, Michael Weber, Katriel Schory, Amra Baksic, Michel Reilhac, Edwina Forkin, Sonja Heinen, Thibaut Bracq, Iris Cadoux and Emma Clarke selected COME TO MY VOICE!. The winning project will also be presented a monetary award of US$10.000 with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey.