Sunday, Apr 15, 2012
More than 5 million Turks have been to see the CGI tale of Mehmet IIs capture of Constantinople part of a resurgence of interest in the countrys imperial past.
It's the film that is making millions of Turkish hearts swell with even more patriotic pride than usual. Fetih 1453, a turbans-and-testosterone epic, has not just smashed all Turkish box office records with its all-action, CGI retelling of Mehmet II's capture of the old Byzantine capital, Constantinople, it is being hailed as a reaffirmation that a resurgent Turkey still has world-conquering blood in its veins.
As the religious-minded daily newspaper Zaman noted, "Turks are feeling imperial again" after a decade of unprecedented economic growth, and are turning more and more toward their Ottoman ancestors for inspiration in foreign policy as much as in interior design, food and fashion, with a neo-Ottomanist push to reassert Turkish diplomatic hegemony over the sultans' former Arab and eastern European domains.
The film's religious overtones with a walk-on part for the prophet Muhammad, predicting the old Roman capital would one day fall to the faithful have attracted a new, observant audience to cinemas and especially endeared it to the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, chiming as it does with his vision to "raise devout generations
who should embrace our historic values".
Some in his party are now demanding it be shown in schools as an antidote to Hollywood's "crusader mentality" not that the film is itself entirely innocent of historical licence, for example its portrayal of the last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI, as a hedonist (he was mostly celibate); the city's magnificence (it had been comprehensively sacked by western crusaders in 1204); and the fact that there were far more Greeks fighting for the sultan than defending the walls. Nearly as many of Mehmet's soldiers would have been praying to the Virgin on the morning of the final assault in May 1453, as to Allah.
In another scene, sappers tunnelling under the immense land walls that had not been breached in 1,000 years, blow themselves up with a cry of "Allahu Akbar" rather than be captured by the Byzantines. In reality, Mehmet's tunnellers were orthodox Christians drafted from Serbia's silver mines.
While the public may be besieging cinemas to see the film, the critical verdict has been far from unanimous, even at Zaman. The critic Emine Yildirim warned that it pandered to "extreme nationalism" and old Turkish stereotypes of their Christian neighbours. "As we are so infuriated by seeing demeaning and Orientalist depictions of the east in western blockbusters, we should at least have the decency not to make the same mistakes," she said.
"Fetih 1453 is a muddled pool of hypocrisy. While it feeds on the common paranoia of seeing the west as unwelcoming and disreputable, it reinforces our aspirations for superiority."
As if to prove her point, the commentator Burak Bekdil received a death threat after he satirised this tendency to supremacism. What next, he quipped, a film called Conquest 1974 to celebrate the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, or Extinction 1915, the Armenian genocide?
"Instead of shyly remembering 1453, Turks remind the entire world that their biggest city once belonged to another nation and was captured by the sword. It is quite hard to think of the British commemorating the conquest of London or the Germans that of Berlin."
Infuriated bloggers later posted that Bekdil was an "ignoble Greek" who "should not be allowed to breathe air". Another pronounced that his byline photo betrayed "Armenian features".
Turkey's foremost film critic, Alin Tasçiyan said with nostalgic Ottomania riding high, it was only natural film-makers should look again at the Ottoman legacy, particularly since it was deliberately neglected by Atatürk and his secularist successors. "It is about time we looked at the empire in a more objective way. It was a huge civilisation, why demonise it? It had good points and bad points.
"But let's get one thing clear, this film is not that. Nor is it a movie made with political or religious motives. It's purely commercial, very cleverly playing to the gallery."
She said there was huge interest in Ottoman history precisely because it was taught so little and so badly. "History teaching in Turkish schools is rigidly nationalistic. The Ottomans were the opposite. They themselves were very mixed. At school, we were told the Ottomans conquered half the world then suddenly became bad, no explanation. Before you know it the sultan is plotting with the British. Luckily Ataturk came along and saved us."
Yildirim said the film revealed a telling contradiction in the way Turks see themselves: on the one hand, an "authoritarian drive for power, but then trying to make amends with an all-embracing tolerance which you see in the final scene in which Mehmet II, having entered [the church of] Hagia Sophia, holds a blond child in his arms and declares, 'Not to worry, people of Constantinople, you can practise your religion however you like.'"
Nothing sells like nationalism in Turkey, and the film's director/producer, Faruk Aksoy who has already made the $17m (£11m) budget back three times is planning another epic on Gallipoli, where Atatürk, the founder of the modern republic, fought off the British. It's a fair bet it won't be Churchill's finest hour.
Source : guardian.co.uk
Saturday, Jun 23, 2012
The Second "Kazakhstan Montage of Cinemas: Film & Cultural Festival" launches at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) in Los Angeles on Aug. 3 for a one-week celebration of Kazakh cinema and culture, including musicians.
The festival is a stellar opportunity for directors, producers, location scouts, and the general public to get an understanding and appreciation of this exotic locale without leaving home.
Sweeping from the Caspian Sea on its Russian border to the Altai Mountain range on the Chinese border, Kazakhstan has a rich nomadic history as well as a powerful current tapestry of cultures. Since gaining independence in 1991, the Central Asian Republic has embraced its remarkable filmmaking past that dates back to the 1930's, when Sergei Eisenstein made his classic Ivan the Terrible in this mystic land, and has even given rise to several "New Wave" movements.
Opening night on Aug. 3rd begins with a reception at 7 pm, and includes a program of live entertainment until 11 pm, at the DGA Theater.
Sponsored by Kazakh Geographic Society (KazGeo.kz ), helixfilmsinc.com , the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the Honorary Consulate of Kazakhstan in Los Angeles, the festival includes Advisory Board Members Steven-Charles Jaffe (GHOST, K19), David Marconi (Screenwriter, ENEMY OF THE STATE), and Ambassador Erlan Idrissov.
Tickets cost $10 (including free parking) can be purchased from the festivals website. "Kazakhstan Montage of Cinemas: Film & Cultural Festival 2012" will be held Aug. 3 - 9 at the Directors Guild of America on 7920 Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles, California
For more information, please see www.kazakhfestival.com - KazakhFilmFestLA@gmail.com
Source : HelixFilmsInc.com
Sunday, May 27, 2012
The 65th Festival de Cannes drew to a close tonight with the closing awards ceremony hosted by Academy Award nominated actress Berenice Bejo.
The top prize was captured yet again by Michael Haneke for his portrait of an elderly couple Amour. This is the second time he has bested Jacques Audiard who was also in competition with De rouille et d'os (Rust and Bone). Haneke becomes one of the few two-time Palme d'Or winners alongside Alf Sjoberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Bille August, Emir Kusturica, Shohei Imamura, and Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne and only the second after August to win with consecutive films his previous Palme d'Or was for his 2009 film Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon).
Matteo Garrone picked up his second Grand Prix for his film Reality. Previously, he had won in 2008 for Gomorrah.
The surprise winner for the Jury Prize was Ken Loach with The Angels' Share. He previously won the Palme d'Or in 2006 with The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
Another previous Palme d'Or winner won Best Screenplay. Cristian Mungiu who made 4 luni, 3 săptămâni ?i 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) returned with După dealuri (Beyond the Hills), and it also shared the Best Actress for its stars Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur.
In spite of the heavy American representation in the selection, the only American film to win a prize was Benh Zeitlin's Un Certain Regard entry Beasts of the Southern Wild which won the Camera d'Or for first film. Last night, it had won the FIPRESCI international critics' prize.
Complete list of winners for the 65th Festival de Cannes
Amour, Michael Haneke (France-Germany-Austria)
Reality, Matteo Garrone (Italy-France)
The Angels' Share, Ken Loach (U.K.-France-Belgium-Italy)
Carlos Reygadas, Post tenebras lux (Light After Darkness) (Mexico-France-Germany-Netherlands)
Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur, După dealuri (Beyond the Hills) (Romania-France-Belgium)
Mads Mikkelsen, Jagten (The Hunt) (Denmark-Sweden)
Cristian Mungiu, După dealuri (Beyond the Hills) (Romania-France-Belgium)
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin (U.S.)
PALME D'OR FOR BEST SHORT FILM
SESSYZ-BE DENG (SILENCE), REZAN YE?YLBA?
Source : www.ensonhaber.com