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Golden Lion Film Festival kicks off in southern Turkey

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News | 7/30/2010 12:00:00 AM |

The beautiful Mediterranean town Köyceğiz once again will host its Kaunos Golden Lion Film Festival, with contemporary hits and classics from Turkish cinema. The festival will open with director Şahin Gök’s take on the 1980 coup, ‘Son Cellat’ (The Last Hangman), and close with Zülfü Livaneli’s Atatürk biopic, ‘Veda’ (Farewell)

Air-conditioned movie theaters are the last refuge of city dwellers waiting anxiously for their summer holiday – but what about those traveling in the Mediterranean?

The beautiful town of Köyceğiz is home to the Kaunos Golden Lion Film Festival for the fifth time this year. If you happen to be close to this breath-taking town, here’s your chance to catch some of last year’s award-winning and box-office hits from Turkish cinema, as well as a selection of documentaries, short films and some old classics from Turkish cinema. The festival kicks off Saturday and runs until Aug. 6.

Organized by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Köyceğiz Municipality, State Television and Radio Institution, or TRT, and the Intercultural Cooperation and Dialogue Association, the festival will continue to host acclaimed names from Turkish cinema.

This year’s Kaunos Golden Lion Film Festival will honor legendary actress Selda Alkor, actors Engin Çağlar and Yılmaz Köksal, as well as director Şahin Gök. Alkor, Çağlar and Köksal are veterans of Turkish cinema, with careers going back half a century.

The festival will screen examples from classic Turkish cinema with the three names in the leading roles of films like “Öksüz” (The Orphan), “Dostum Dostum” (My Friend) and “O Kadınlardan Biri” (One of the Women), and host an exhibition of posters of the films of these three actors. The posters are from the archives of the famous cinema historian and collector, Vadullah Taş.

“Son Cellat” (The Last Hangman) will be the opening film of the festival, with the director Gök being one of the honorary guests. Once a subject of ultimate taboo, the 1980 coup and the subsequent military regime have become fixtures in Turkish cinema. Ironically, director Gök’s movie career goes back to 1980, the very same year Turkey woke to military tanks. “Son Cellat” stars one of Turkey’s oldest actors, Kadir İnanır, in an against-the-grain role as the public prosecutor who finds himself in prison following his son’s death in the political turmoil of the time. The film plays out like the Turkish “The Shawshank Redemption,” focusing on the unusual friendship between the public prosecutor and the hapless villager who’s forced to become an executioner in exchange for the dropping of his charges.

[HH] Winners from Yerevan and Rotterdam

One of the highlights of the festival will be “Kosmos,” the recent winner of the Golden Apricot in Yerevan. Director Reha Erdem’s surreal drama follows Kosmos, a larger-than-life character who impresses and confuses a small town with his small miracles, his weird lifestyle, and his uncanny athletic abilities. The film also won four awards in the recent Golden Oranges, including Best Picture, Director and Cinematography.

Newcomer Turkish director İlksen Başarır’s unique take on a love story, “Başka Dilde Aşk” (Love in Another Language) had wowed the audience and critics in the recent Golden Oranges and Bursa’s Silk Road Film Festival. Mert Fırat (a co-writer for the film along with Başarır) stars as Onur, a young deaf man who finds himself in a sweeping romance with Zeynep (Saadet Işıl Aksoy of “Yumurta/Egg” and “Süt/Milk”), a woman working in a call center. Fırat’s performance, the chemistry between the leading actors, and Hayk Kirakosyan’s cinematography were among the highlights from the critics.

Mahmut Fazıl Coşkun’s debut film “Uzak İhtimal” (Wrong Rosary) was the first Turkish film to compete in and the winner of last year’s Tiger Award given to the Best Film in the Rotterdam Film Festival, What’s more impressive is that the film was the first Turkish film to compete at the festival. The film tells the moving story of a love between a müezzin (caller of daily prayer for Muslims), and a prospective nun, and their friendship with an elderly bookseller in Istanbul.

The closing film, “Veda” (Farewell) marks revered writer, director, composer, and singer of international caliber, Zülfü Livaneli’s returns to director’s chair nearly two decades after his “Sis” (Mist). His name was in the credits in 2007’s “Mutluluk” (Bliss) as he was the writer of the original novel, wrote the script for the adaptation and had composed the score. Here, he writes and directs the inspiring friendship between Atatürk and his childhood friend, confidante, and brother-in-arms, Salih Bozok. Atatürk is played by four different actors, portraying the greatest hero of modern Turkey in different ages. Check Koycegizfilmfest.org for more information and the program.

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