Festival pays tribute to the golden age of cinema
Festival on Wheels, Turkey’s veteran film festival of 23 years, has always been the epitome of a true festival. A pioneer in many respects, the festival has never been a mere screening of films, bringing cinema to remote parts of Turkey, introducing the lesser known gems from the world cinema to cinephiles, paying tribute to the works of auteurs, and blending different forms from music, dance and video art, even comics, with cinema.
While continuing to keep its traditional sections like World Cinema, Turkish Cinema and Short is Good strong, selection of shorts from a country each year, Festival on Wheels adds a pleasant twist to its rich program. Paying tribute to the silent era of cinema in its own unique way had now become another festival tradition.
In 2013, the opening film of the festival was Alfred Hitchcock’s silent film “Blackmail,” one of the 10 little-known silent films Hitchcock had made between 1925 and 1929 and of the nine that have been painstakingly restored by the British Film Institute in its “Hitchcock9” project. The screening in Ankara’s historic State Art and Sculpture Museum was accompanied by live music by pianist Hasan Ali Toker.
Last year, one of the great names in silent cinema, Buster Keaton was remembered on the 50th anniversary of his death with the screening of four of his most important shorts filmed in the early 1920s, again with live music accompaniment. And the year before that, at the 21st Festival on Wheels, the special screening of the restored version of German filmmaker Ewald André Dupont’s 1925 silent film “Varieté” (Jealousy) was shown with live music accompaniment from British pianist Stephen Horne and German percussionist Frank Bockius.
Live cinema and silent divas
This year’s Festival on Wheels will pay tribute to the golden age of cinema and silent cinema in two different sections. On the opening night of the festival at Ankara’s Contemporary Arts Center, Dec. 1 at 21:00, film will meet pantomime in “Live Cinema: Hollymood.”
The performance, what can be called a “live cinema,” will star pantomime artist Evelina Breedikytee, as she gets stuck in a film screen, incorporating scenes from American classics, ranging from Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” to Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.” Hollymood, designed and directed by the Lithuanian artist Sandra Latanauskaite, will meet the festivalgoers with the support of the U.S. Embassy.
In “Silent Divas: Timeless and Rebellious,” two films, put together with the help of Elif Rongen Kaynakçı, a silent film curator at the EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam, will be accompanied by live music from the famous Turkish band Baba Zula. On Dec. 4, at 21:00, Italian director Mario Roncoroni’s 1915 film “Filibus: Mysterious Pirate of the Skies” will
On Dec. 5 at 21:00, American production “The Spanish Dancer,” directed by Herbert Brenon in 1923 and restored by the EYE Film Museum in 2012, will be shown. Both films fill feature strong, against-the-grain female characters, hence the name of the section. Both films will be shown at the Contemporary Arts Center, with the support of the U.S. and Dutch embassies.
The Festival on Wheels will kick off on Dec. 1 in Ankara and will continue for a week, then heading off to the northern provinces of Sinop and Kastamonu.