NURI BILGE CEYLAN is one of the most interesting filmmakers working in Europe at the moment. His new film, Uzak, is a masterpiece. Tom Dawson tracks down this young Turk and finds a man who likes to be on his own.
uperlatives are entirely warranted when
describing Nuri Bilge (‘eylan‘s impressiver
assured new drama (/zak (Distant). Shot through with a palpable sense of loss and yearning. it tells of an unemployed young man (Mehmet Emin Toprak) from the countryside who comes to stay in the Istanbul apartment of his divorced cousin (Muzaffer ()zdemir). who resents having his solitary routine disrupted. With minimal dialogue and a contemplative visual style. Uzak captures the loneliness and transiencc of modern urban living. and that sense of alienation only truly shared by those who cannot help drifting through their own lives.
The film won three major prizes at last year's Cannes festival. including Best Actor awards for ()zdemir and posthumously for Toprak. who had died in a car crash shortly after filming ceased. Festival critics greeted (‘eyfan (pictured) like a new boy while comparing his film to the works with that of auteurs such as Kiarostami. ()zu. Antonioni. Tarkovsky and Angelopoulos. Yet Uzak was actually Ceylan's third feature. and it comprised — along with Tllt‘ Small 'Iim‘n and (loads ofMay — an unofficial trilogy.
‘The films I‘ve made are on autobiographical subjects.‘ explains the reserved 45-year—old (‘eylan. ‘My first film was about my childhood. the second one. ('loials (il'May. was about the making of The Small Town. There are the same actors in all my films — Toprak was my cousin living in a small town in Anatolia. ()zdemir was my friend living in Ankara. Distant is quite autobiographical. it comes out of my observations and experiences. It was a big problem for me living a disconnected life and feeling a distance to everything around me. I wanted to make a film about this kind of melancholy.’
(‘cylan is an unusually hands-on filmmaker. Working with a small crew. he writes. photographs. produces. edits and directs his self-financed films. is
28 THE LIST May—ft) Jun 9004
‘TO ME HUMOUR IS THE BROTHER 0F TRAGEDY'
his own sales agent. ploughing profits back into the next project. For the main location in (."zak he used his own flat. ‘I didn‘t look for a specific location. I
just wanted it to be real’. he says. although he
received an unexpected blessing from the thick snowfall that covered the city’s streets. ‘()ne day we woke tip and we realised we'd either have to wait until it blows away or we had to be very quick and shoot all those scenes in three days. I think (iod must have helped me.‘
Running through the sombre lizak is a vein of
wry humour. as (‘eylan explores the awkward domestic co-habitation between his deadpan protagonists. ‘I see humour especially in the most tragic situations] he admits. ’To me humour is the brother of tragedy. When we are alone at home. we are very funny. because we don‘t have our masks on. If you are living on your own for a long time. you create funny habits. I‘ve lived alone a lot. so I know this situation very well.‘
(‘eylan also accepts that the laconic nature of (Izak risks frustrating some. ‘I find boredom an important state for human beings. We try to live without boredom. btit people's biggest decisions often come after a state of boredom. (‘ertainly the films which bored me most initially in time became my favourite films. You have to give them a chance.’
He‘s already at work on a new film about marriage. Married twice himself. with his current wife libru (‘eylan (the art director on (r’:ak). (‘eylan has come to regard his own brand of filmmaking as a form of therapy. ‘You put your problems in it. and you control them in that way. Normally you hide your weak sides from society. This is a way you can express them and deal with them.’
Uzak opens at the Filmhouse, Edinburgh on Fri 28 May and the GFT, Glasgow on Fri 18 June. See feature, page 12 and review, page 30.
Lights, camera, action . . .
UNBELIEVABLY VICENT Gallo’s 2003 Cannes competition entry film The Brown Bunny has secured a North American distribution deal. When it screened in Cannes last year, actor/director Vincent Gallo’s film was widely criticised by the press, some calling it the worst movie ever made. Gallo debuted the completed, shorter version of the film at the Toronto International Film Festival and later won the FIPRESCI International Critic Prize at the Viennale. Rumours that it may be in this year’s EIFF line up abound. Fingers crossed.
GREAT NEWS ABOUT
Dear Frankie the low budget British weepie starring Emily Mortimer as a Scottish Single mother which has wowed audiences at Cannes and has just been picked up for distribution in the US by Miramax. Rough Cuts is also waiting to hear how Fabien Greenberg. a graduate from Napier University did in competition at Cannes. Fabien’s film Prophet/es du Passe. was shot entirely in an old barn in Drem, East Lothian for £2,000 and was competing in the Cinemndation category of the competition. Fabien (27). from Toulouse set his film in a future where history has been erased and personal memory altered to conform to the dictates of a centralised somety.
FAST FORWARD FEATURES, A special initiative aimed at fully funding three low budget features with a target budget of up to 21.2 million per film has just been announced by Scottish Screen, BBC Scotland, BBC Films. More details to follow.
FINALLY NOKIA AND ORANGE have annOLinced that they will take up the prestigious status of Principal Sponsors of the 58th Edinburgh International Film Festival. Free mobiles all round then hurray!
Gallo’s The Brown Bunny returns