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Women's film festival kicks off in Ankara

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 5/7/2010 12:00:00 AM |

The Flying Broom International Film Festival is now running for the 13th time in Ankara. Although there are more than a hundred films on offer, there are five that are definitely worth viewing; including both foreign and Turkish films, as well as older and newer releases, all five are powerful and memorable

Turkey’s biggest women’s film festival kicked off Thursday evening with an impressive A-list of Turkey’s top female figures from the cinema world.

Actress Hale Soygazi and Deniz Türkali, director Biket İlhan, film critic Sevin Okyay, German director Almut Getto, and American director Nancy Schwartzman were among the guests for the opening of the 13th Flying Broom International Film Festival in Ankara.

[HH] ‘Ladybird, Ladybird’

The festival films are not restricted solely to Turkish offerings; while somewhat dated, English director Ken Loach’s 1994 film, “Ladybird Ladybird,” is masterful in its depiction of the brutal realities of the British working class.

The film revolves around an unemployed woman and her fight with Social Services over the care and custody of her children.

Maggie is a frustrated mother, taking care of her four children from four different fathers, but authorities take her children following a fire. The movie focuses on Maggie’s struggle to start anew with an immigrant from Paraguay and the repercussions of her past in the eyes of the government.

She’s played by Crissy Rock, a former barmaid and stand-up comic, who reprised her first acting role. The film won two awards in the Berlin Film Festival, and Rock won two acting awards of her own.

[HH] Older Turkish offerings

Meanwhile, a classic from Turkish cinema brings together three of the actors from the 1984 film “Dağınık Yatak” (The Unmade Bed) as guests of the festival.

Actresses Lale Belkıs and Gülsen Tuncer, as well as art director Deniz Özen, will be in Ankara for the film’s screening. Quite controversial at the time, “Dağınık Yatak” was one of a series of revolutionary women’s films directed by the late master Atıf Yılmaz.

The movie stars Müjde Ar as Benli Meryem, a high-society call girl who falls for a young boy from the working class. The film, along with other classics like “Adı Vasfiye” (Her Name is Vasfiye) and “Aaahh Belinda!...,” helped establish strong female characters in control of their lives and their sexuality.

[HH] Men, women and children under the gaze

Not exclusively restricted to women, the festival also features Lynn Shelton’s indie gem, “Humpday,” the only film in the event’s “Men under the Gaze” category.

One night, Andrew unexpectedly shows up at his old college Ben’s house after a decade, the two immediately fall into their old bonding. Their bonding is put to the test when, in a drunken stupor, they take a dare and decide to enter a short porn film festival.

The catch is that they will be the straight actors trying their first gay sex in front of the cameras.

You can feel the presence of a woman’s touch on male bonding and homophobia throughout the film. That’s a good thing. The occasional improvised dialogue makes the film all the more dynamic, funny, and surprisingly heartwarming.

The film won various awards, including the Special Jury Prize in 2009’s Sundance Film Festival.

[HH] ‘The Other History’

In keeping with the festival’s uniqueness, the event is also featuring categories that seek to provide an alternative look at history.

Recent years have been filled with films that have explored the darkest days in the Republic’s history, the Sept. 12, 1980, coup and its aftermath. While Hülya Karcı and Meltem Öztürk’s documentary, “Eylül Çocukları” (Children of September), fits into that mould, they bring a new angle to the discussion, following five young Turkish people in Berlin, Copenhagen, Zurich and Paris.

Each of the characters was born in a different Turkish region, while they all sought asylum in different European countries following the tribulations their families encountered after the coup. The film seeks to find common motifs among these young people and determine whether there is anything similar making them the Children of September.

[HH] Winter comes to Ankara

Video artist Sonja Wyss, meanwhile, uses beautiful visuals and an incredible use of sound to reflect silence in her debut experimental feature, “Winterstilte” (Winter Silence).

Jammed between the rocky Swiss mountains is a remote snowed-in village, there is a log cabin where a family lives. When the man dies, the widow and her four daughters are left in a suspended, dream-like period of mourning. The film is a visual fairy tale on Catholic obsession with chastity, spiced with mythological motifs in the form of mysterious deer-men, watchful owls and little girls who fill the valleys with birds.

Bringing her craft of experimental composition in video art, Wyss puts minimum use of words and creates the illusion of silence with her extraordinary sound design, which went on to win an award in the Nederlands Film Festival.

Visuals like an extraordinary scene where four daughters weave in a synchronized rhythm or the little girl lets birds out of her hands to fill the sky remain with the viewer long after the film is over.

The festival features nearly a hundred films and will end next Thursday. For the detailed program, check out festival.ucansupurge.org

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