Around the World with the Festival on Wheels: 40,702 km in 13 years
The films competing for the Golden Goose in this year’s Festival on Wheels international competition have been identified as follows: The Trap, a festival favourite this year from Serbian director Srdan Golubovic; When Darkness Falls, a study of violence in his native Sweden by Anders Nilsson; Duska, the latest film from Jos Stelling (of The Flying Dutchman fame) which centres on a bizarre friendship; Croatian director Ognjen Svilicic’s Armin, a film that has scooped 13 international awards so far in 2007; The Class, Estonian director Ilmar Raag’s real-life inspired musing on high-school violence; The Other Boy from German director Volker Einrauch, a sobering tale of the tragedy that can result from private gun ownership; the latest film from leading Romanian director Nae Caranfil, The Rest Is Silence, the story of a director obsessed with making a film about the War of Independence against the Ottomans; Polish director Andrzej Jakimovski’s Tricks, which opened the Warsaw Film Festival; Israeli director David Volach’s Tribeca Film Festival winner, My Father My Lord, a look at the Orthodox Jewish lifestyle through the eyes of a rabbi; and Egg, the first instalment in a proposed trilogy from Semih Kaplanoğlu, which won critical acclaim at Cannes. Of these, directors Anders Nilsson, Jos Stelling, Nae Caranfil and Andrzej Jakimovksi will be guests of the festival in Kars. Meanwhile, Golden Goose contenders The Trap, Duska, Armin and The Class will be representing their respective countries at the 2008 Academy Awards.
Yol, unquestionably one of the greatest films of Turkish cinema, is to be shown at the 13th Festival on Wheels 25 years after the making. Donat Keusch, the Swiss producer of the film, and Elizabeth Waelchli, who edited the film in conjunction with Yılmaz Güney, will be coming to Ankara and Kars as guests of the festival and bringing with them footage that was never used in the film. The footage, which no one has seen for 25 years and very few people even know about, will be presented to the audience at a panel discussion with the producer, editor, cast and crew after a screening of Yol.
This year, the Festival on Wheels is hosting three International Youth Organisations in Kars. Young filmmakers and members of the Nisi Masa European Youth Cinema Network from 19 European countries will be making eight short films based on the novel Kar (Snow) by last year’s Nobel laureate for literature, Orhan Pamuk, within the framework of the Snow Film Production Workshop. Separately, and in collaboration with the Mediawave International Film Festival of Hungary, an international film and photography workshop will be held under the name Passport Control IV. Meanwhile, three crews from Ankara’s Gazi University, Diyarbakır and Georgia will be making three different documentaries about the city of Kars.
At the same time, film students and independent film groups from all over the world will be congregating in Kars within the framework of the festival. The meeting, due to be attended by 86 people, will include a series of training sessions, as well as Q&A sessions with the likes of Serra Yılmaz and Erkan Oğur, and concerts by Erkan Oğur, İsmail Hakkı Demircioğlu, Baba Zula, Kardeş Türkücüler and the band Gevende.
Yet another initiative of the Festival on Wheels is the ‘Stories of Kars’ Short Film Script Competition, which sets out to give short film directors the chance to shoot a film with a professional cast and crew. Qualifying projects will be developed un a workshop led by director Zeki Demirkubuz. Other sidebar events scheduled during the festival in Kars include a workshop for primary school students with Dutch animation director Petra Dolleman, as well as Attila Durak’s exhibition ‘Ebru’ and a Q&A session with the artist.
This year, the Festival on Wheels has dedicated a special section to acclaimed director Michael Haneke, one of the most nonconformist filmmakers of European cinema. Festival audiences will have the chance to see a selection of Haneke’s work that includes Funny Games, The Time of the Wolf and The Seventh Continent. In addition, the director has made a personal selection of European films exclusively for the Festival on Wheels, which will be screened within the festival programme. The titles include Persona from the great Swedish director we lost this year, Ingmar Bergman, Roberto Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero, Robert Bresson’s Balthazar, Jean Luc Godard’s First Name: Carmen and Luis Bunuel’s The Exterminating Angel.
Romanian cinema has been on a roll in the last few years, and Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, one of the most recent examples which walked away from Cannes this year with the Palme d’Or, will be shown at a special screening during the festival. Michelangelo Antonioni, another eminent director to have died this year, will be remembered with his film The Eclipse.
Titles selected for the Turkish Cinema 2007 section of the festival will be presented at gala performances in Ankara and Kars in the presence of the director and lead cast. The section features Fatih Akın’s The Edge of Heaven, Reis Çelik’s The Refugee and Handan İpekçi’s Hidden Faces.
In Turkey, it is Armenians who are treated as ‘the other’; in Germany, it is Turks. This year, festival audiences will find a section called The Other dedicated to Hrant Dink, featuring films about the problems of living in a different country, about being viewed as ‘the other’. One of these titles is Tony Gatlif’s Safe Journey, a 1993 production that picked up awards at the Cannes and Montreal Film Festivals among others.
The Festival on Wheels has this year dedicated a special section to Romanian director Cristian Nemescu, who died tragically in a car accident last year while editing California Dreamin’. Three of the director’s shorts, C Block Story, Mihai and Cristina and Marilena from the P7, will be shown as part of the festival programme.
One of the sections audiences will perhaps enjoy most is Absurd Films. If the world has been growing steadily more absurd since the turn of the millennium, then the growing crop of absurd films from around the world surely mirrors this. Film enthusiasts will have the chance to sample a selection during the festival.
Germany’s acclaimed animation artist Jochen Kuhn will also be a guest of the festival along with his films. Animation aside, the European Panorama section gathers together a multitude of international award-winning short films.
Over the years, it has become something a tradition to have one or more books on cinema published within the framework of the festival. This year sees a new title added to the series, Ali Karadoğan’s tribute to distinguished Turkish director, Zeki Ökten, entitled Yoksul: Zeki Ökten (Impoverished: Zeki Ökten).
Films in this Festival
Petra and Hasan Cemal Sargın Dolleman animation workshop
Led by Dutch animation director Petra Dolleman and Hasan Cemal Sargın, the stop-motion animation workshop was directed specifically at primary school students in Kars and produced a batch of four-minute animation films, which were later shown at festivals around Turkey and Europe.