Turkish director’s movie wins big at prestigious film festival
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Lal Gece’ by Reis Celik(L) won awards for best film and best director at the 39th Brussels International Independent Film Festival. The film has received awards at Berlin International Film. AA photoThe Turkish film “Lal Gece” (Night of Silence), directed by Reis Celik, won awards for best film and best director at the 39th Brussels International Independent Film Festival. The film had previously won several other awards at the Berlin International Film Festival, Nuremberg Film Festival and Tokyo International Film Festival, Anatolia news agency has reported.
Based on a true story, the film follows a traditionally arranged wedding in which the 60-something-year-old groom, recently released from prison after serving a sentence for two honor killings, is sent off to the bridal chamber with his 14-year-old bride to consummate the marriage by sunrise the next day.
According to Hürriyet Daily News writer Emrah Güler, “The marriage is an arrangement to end the blood feud between two families. The groom, played by veteran actor İlyas Salman, has spent most of his life in prison for the murder, executed as an honor killing, of his mother. The film’s director and writer Çelik examines another patriarchal tradition accepted in certain rural parts of Turkey with the addition of the groom’s honor killing to the plot. The young bride, played by newcomer Dilan Aksüt, is a fresh-faced teenager under her bright red wedding veil.”
Most of “Lal Gece” takes place in the bridal chamber, where the blood-stained bed sheets are expected to be waved like a victory flag the next morning as proof of the groom’s virility and the bride’s sacred virginity. What starts out as moments that alternate between awkward and frightening turn into a night reminiscent of Tennessee Williams plays, a strategy game of words, vulnerabilities and fears. Gökhan Tiryaki’s cinematography is not set to a musical score, adding to the stifling mood as the two characters are gradually rendered prisoners suffocating under the burden of tradition as the film moves toward its end, according to Güler.
The movie also takes on the tradition of arranged marriages in Turkey. Güler writes, “As medieval as it is, arranged marriage is still a surprisingly common traditional practice and has lately become a favorite theme for Turkish filmmakers.” Along with “Lal Gece,” the Berlin International Film Festival screened what could loosely be called a companion piece to Çelik’s award-winner, another feature on arranged marriages in Turkey which has risen to fame in many international film festivals.
About the festival
The 39th Brussels International Independent Film Festival offers cinemagoers the discovery of new films from Belgium and around the world. The program for the 39th edition covered Belgian international short and feature films, sneak-previews, a panel discussion, film lessons, a discovery of Lebanon’s culture and cuisine. The main countries of focus were Lebanon, New Zealand, Morocco, Canada, Belgium and Egypt.