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Women rise as directors at the Golden Oranges

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 10/2/2010 12:00:00 AM | EMRAH GÜLER

Although there are more working female directors in Turkish cinema than in Hollywood, female directors have scarcely won awards in the Golden Oranges. This year marks a first as two films by women directors are competing in the national competition

This year’s International Golden Orange Film Festival marks a first, as two films by women directors are competing in the national competition. One of the names is a familiar name to the festival, last year’s Special Jury Prize winner İlksen Başarır. She will be competing with “Atlıkarınca” (Merry-Go-Round), while the other film is Belma Baş’s debut feature, “Zefir.”

Directing has never been a welcoming area for women. Take a look at the Oscars. One female director has won the Best Directing award (last year’s Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”), and a total of four have been nominated in the history of the Academy Awards. Interestingly, Turkey has more working female directors when compared to Hollywood. But, of course, this doesn’t change the fact that women directors have been minimal in Golden Oranges, as in other awards.

The first woman director to win an award in Golden Orange Film Festival was Bilge Olgaç for her satire “Kaşık Düşmanı” (Unwelcome Bride) in 1984. The film, starring Perihan Savaş and Halil Ergün, was runner-up for Best Picture. Based on a true story, the film tells the story of a village that loses a substantial population of its women to a tragic accident, a bottled gas explosion, which was quite common in the 1980s.

More on Golden Orange
Check out South Weekly for comprehensive coverage of the Golden Orange Film Festival.

[HH] Love ‘Cold,’ ‘Little’ and ‘in Another Language’

In 1997, Canan Gerede won the Best Director award and the Special Prize for her “Aşk Ölümden Soğuktur” (Love Colder Than Death). The New York-based Gerede was a popular name in the 1990s until she distanced herself from the Turkish movie scene. The film, starring Kadir İnanır, Tuncel Kurtiz and Bennu Gerede, is a loose adaptation of the tragic story of arabesk singer Bergen.

Director Handan İpekçi’s controversial “Büyük Adam Küçük Aşk” (Big Man, Little Love) won the Best Picture award in 2001. The film takes a look at the Kurdish problem in Turkey, not taking sides with the state ideology or the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The film also won the Best Screenplay award, was watched by an impressive 100,000 in the movie theaters and was selected as Turkey’s movie to compete in the Oscars. However, “Büyük Adam Küçük Aşk” was unexpectedly banned from movie theaters.

Last year, newcomer director Başarır’s “Başka Dilde Aşk” (Love in Another Language) became a favorite both among the audience and the critics. Mert Fırat (also the co-writer with Başarır) stars as a young deaf man who finds himself in a sweeping romance with Saadet Işıl Aksoy’s Zeynep, 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.

[HH] Hopefully reprising the Oscar moment

The film, in Turkish subtitles, went on to win the Antalya City Council Jury Special Prize at last year’s Golden Orange Film Festival, among other awards like Best Picture at the Bursa Silk Road Film Festival, Best Debut Screenplay and Special Jury prizes at the Ankara International Film Festival and Best Debut Director at the Berdyansk Film Festival.

This year’s nominee “Atlıkarınca” brings together Başarır with Mert Fırat as the co-writer and Kirakosyan as the cinematographer once again. The film, starring Nergis Öztürk, Zeynep Oral, Semra Çeyrekbaşı and Fırat, takes on a taboo subject and tells about the story of a family as they deal with incest.

The other film by a woman director, “Zefir” is written and directed by Baş. The film tells the story of a young girl, Zefir. While staying with her grandparents for the summer holidays in the beautiful mountains of the Black Sea region, Zefir longs for her mother to come and take her home. When her mother comes home unexpectedly, it is to say goodbye to her daughter before a long journey. The film stars Şeyma Uzunlar, Vahide Gördüm and Sevinç Baş.

Like another woman director, the revered Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Baş is also from the Black Sea region. Her short “Poyraz” (The North Wind) competed at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006 and won awards here and abroad including a Special Jury Prize at the Golden Oranges. Here’s hoping last year’s Oscars are reprised in the Golden Oranges.

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