Organized by the Ankara Cinema Association with the support of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Festival on Wheels will raise the curtain on its 25th edition from November 29-December 5 in Ankara, from December 6-8 in Sinop and from December 9-12 in Kastamonu. Promising the chance to watch the top Turkish productions and short films of the year on the big screen, the Festival will also be bringing its younger audiences a collection of timeless children’s films from some of the most respected animation artists in cinema history.
This year’s Turkish Cinema section of the Festival on Wheels presents once again new local productions that have stood out, won awards and provoked discussion at festivals. The films open a window on where Turkish cinema is in 2019, and screenings will be followed by a Q&A with key members of the cast and crew, who will be guests of the Festival.
Köken Ergun is a contemporary artist known for his work in video and performance, and Heroes (Şehitler), his first feature-length film, world premiered at Rotterdam. Later selected for the documentary competition at the Istanbul Film Festival, the film presents a different perspective on the concepts of martyrdom and heroism that have evolved around the legacy of the Gallipoli Campaign. The screening of Heroes will be attended by the director, Köken Ergun, cinematographer, Batu Tezyüksel, and producer, Asena Hayal.
Like his debut feature, The Pillar of Salt (Tuzdan Kaide), Burak Çevik’s follow-up, Belonging (Belonging), premiered in the Forum section of the Berlinale. The genre-bending film, a crime story based on the court records and personal testimonies associated with a real-life murder, could loosely be described as a combination of romance and road movie. The director, Burak Çevik will present be at the screening.
Its success at both national and international festivals makes Emin Alper’s third film, A Tale of Three Sisters (Sisters), one of the highlights of this year’s productions. After world premiering in Official Selection at the Berlinale, the film picked up Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Music and the FIPRESCI Prize at the Istanbul Film Festival, as well as Best Director at the Sarajevo Film Festival. Three Sisters is the story of three sisters who are given to different families as “besleme”, something between a servant and foster child, following the death of their mother.
Cenk Ertürk’s first full-length film, Noah Land (Noah Hill), won Best Screenplay and Best Actor (Ali Atay) nods at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it world premiered, before going on to take Best Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography at the Adana Film Festival. The film tells the story of a man wrestling with a mid-life crisis as he struggles to carry out the last wishes of his estranged father, who demands to be buried under the Noah Tree he claims controversially to have planted himself. Both the director, Cenk Ertürk, and producer, Alp Ertürk, will attend the screening.
Kıvanç Sezer scored a hit at national and international festivals with his first film, My Father’s Wings (Father's Wings), and has replicated this success with his follow-up, La Belle Indifference (Küçük Şeyler). The film has earned awards and accolades at national festivals such as Adana and Antalya since it world premiered at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. This time, the director turns his attention to the relationship between a middle-class couple living in one of the housing developments built by the construction workers of his first film. The screening will be attended by the director, Kıvanç Sezer, and lead actors, Alican Yücesoy and Başak Özcan.
Breaking records at the Antalya Film Festival this year with a tally of 10 awards, Steppe (Bozkır) is the first full-length film from Ali Özel, who comes from a background in advertising and latterly worked as a cinematographer and editor in film. In his speech at the Antalya awards ceremony, chair of the national competition jury, Zeki Demirkubuz, described Steppe as ‘a film that reminds us of the nature of life, the past, what we have left behind, death and cemeteries, a film that restores us at least in part, that gives a sense of the zeitgeist, that goes in search of the truth’. Set in a village that will soon be submerged by the waters of a dam being built nearby, the story revolves around a family forced to uproot and abandon the mother’s grave in the garden of their home. The director, Ali Özel, actors, Mücahit Koçak, Hakan Emre Ünal, Ozan Dağara, Elif Aydın and the composer Hüseyin Özel will be present at the screening.
Breath (Pale) is the debut feature from Özkan Yılmaz, who has made a number of shorts and documentaries, as well as working on myriad films as an A.D. and line producer. Premiering in the national competition of the Antalya Film Festival and starring Uğur Polat in the lead, the film won Aslı İnandık Best Supporting Female Actor at the same festival. The story unfolds around three very different characters bound together by the desire to hold on to life. The screening will be attended by the director, Özkan Yılmaz, producer and screenwriter, Benan Yılmaz, and cast members, Uğur Polat and Emrullah Çakay.
SHORT IS GOOD
It has become a tradition at the Festival on Wheels to give short films the attention they merit, and this year, as always, audiences can look forward to a line-up of the latest and most impressive shorts from around the world.
The short film program will be shown in two parts and features the following titles: Bogdan Muresanu’s The Christmas Gift (Cadoul de Craciun), which left Clermont-Ferrand, one of the world’s premier short film festivals, with the Grand Prix; Bobbie Peers’s To Plant a Flag, which picked up awards at Moscow and many other festivals besides; Quentin Baillieux’s animation, Le Mans 1955, which screened in competition at Clermont-Ferrand this year; Yves Piat’s Nefta Football Club, winner of the Audience Award at Clermont-Ferrand and further trophies at other festivals; Burcu Aykar’s My Sister (Ablam), which was named Best Film at the Akbank Short Film Festival and Antalya Film Festival; Guy Nattiv’s Oscar-winning Skin; Canadian animation artist, Valeri Barnhart’s Girl in the Hallway, one of this year’s much-talked-about animation films; Konstantinos Antonopoulos’s Postcards from the End of the World, which has screened at multiple festivals; Michael Kranz’s MyBorder’s JoyFence; Raphaële Bezin’s L’Espace Commun; Anne Huynh’s My Grandpa Is Hiding; and Ceylan Özgün Özçelik’s 13+, part one of her Witch Trilogy on violence against women and girls.
CHILDREN’S FILMS FROM CZECHIA
The 25th edition of the Festival on Wheels will be bringing younger audiences a line-up of timeless children’s films from some of cinema’s most prized animation artists.
Covering the work of three directors from Czech animation cinema, the section will present: Two Balls of Wool (Dvě klubíčka), Balls of Mischief (Rozpustilí bráškové) and The Wicked Slingshot (Prak darebák) by Hermína Týrlová, a pioneer in Czech animation cinema known above all for her use of the stop-motion technique; Shoes of Iron (Myší Kočičiny) from Louis Kadleček, another leading light in the world of Czech animation; and Gallina Vogelbirdae (Spatne Namalovana Slepice) by the great artist, Jiří Brdečka, who became a specialist in puppet animation.
BEHİÇ AK POSTER EXHIBITION
The 2019 Festival on Wheels will be holding an exhibition of Behiç Ak’s Festival posters, one of the vital elements that have given the Festival its unique character over the past quarter century.
The exhibition, which covers all the eye-catching posters designed by seasoned caricaturist and writer, Behiç Ak, for the Festival since its inaugural edition, will be open for viewing between December 2-9 in the Abidin Dino exhibition hall of Ankara’s Contemporary Arts Center (Çağdaş Sanatlar Merkezi).
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