DISMAL INDIAN PRESENCE AT FOURTH EURASIAN FILMFEST IN TURKEY

 Our Roving Film Critic BB Nagpal wires from Turkey

 

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Antalya (Turkey), 12 October: Turkey prides itself for the fact that it geographically falls at a point which is in the middle of Europe and Asia, and this was perhaps the reason for launching an annual International Eurasian Film Festival in this tourist seaside resort in the southern part of the country/

Antalya already had a fairly well-known festival of Turkish films, the Altin Portakal (Golden Orange) Film Festival which completed fortyfive years this week, and the Eurasian festival and film market were launched to give a further boost to Turkish cinema.

For this quaint little seaside resort, thıs ıs an event that all residents look out for throughout the year. Not merely because it is the venue of both a national and an international event, but because their screen idols descend from the Turkish screen to the streets of this town, and it is no wonder that large crowds stood on both sides of the road leading from the hotel where the opening reception was held to the venue of the inauguration of the Festivals, waving frantically to anyone who looked like a star to them.

The 45th Golden Orange Film Festival along with the Fourth Eurasian Film Festival and a film market have been organised by TURSAK, the Turkish Foundation of Cinema and Audiovisual Culture from 10 to 19 October.

While the 45th Golden Orange Film Festival got underway on October 10, the Eurasian Film Festival commenced a day later at a simple ceremony in the AKM Espendos theatre with the presentation of lifetime achievement awards to renowned genius storyteller and master director Paul Verhoeven, actor Michael York who is celebrating the 44th year in his performing career, and Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner who is known for the original scores he composed for Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Three Colors” trilogy and “Dekalog”.

The inaugural ceremony conducted by the petite Turkish actress Azra Akın commenced with a concert by renowned musicians Barbaros Erköse and İlhan Erşahin and concluded with the screening of the opening film, the Turkish-Italian co-production ‘A Perfect Day’ by Ferzan Özpetek for which the director, actress Isabella Ferrari and producer Domenico Procacci were present.

Speaking at the ceremony, Engin Yiğitgil who is President of the TURSAK Foundation said the festival was a passionate journey for cinema under the banner of a festival which reconciled three continents.

The Festival’s Honorary President and the Mayor of Antalya Metropolitan Municipality Menderes Türel said the festival had led to greater competition and improvement of the standard of Turkish films and also covered a large geographical area in terms of countries participating.

Paul Verhoeven who is also heading the Grand Jury at the Festival said he was working on a film set in Turkey and had already been looking for locations in Antalya and Istanbul.  

The other members of the Grand Competition Jury, the NETPAC Jury, the Critics’ Award jury and the SIYAD juries were also announced. Majid Majidi, 2008 Golden Bear nominee with his latest movie "The Song of Sparrows", and Cameron Bailey, co-director of Toronto International Film Festival are also members of the jury which will vote for the "Best Film" and the "Best Director" categories of the competition section.

Tuna Erdem of Turkey and Raman Chawla of India are members of the Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) jury,.while the critics jury has Engin Ertan, Aslı Selçuk, Burcu Aykar Şirin, and Ceylan Ozçelik.

The Grand jury will be presenting two awards: $ 75,000 for the "Best Film" and $ 25,000 for the "Best Director".

While the festival has seen a marginal increase of participation from India in terms of delegates, it is astonishing that the Fourth Eurasian Film Festival did not have a single entry from India against at least one last year (Frozen by Shivajee Chandrabhushan). In fact the festival last year also had greater Indian participation in the sense that at least three other films – Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth – the Golden Era, Asif Kapadia’s Far North and the American A Mighty Heart had involvement of Indians, though the films came from other countries.

The Festival this year has one Indian – Osian’s Raman Chawla - in the jury of the Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) and for the first time has an Indian distributor - Sun Stone Entertainment of Mumbai headed by Sanjay Jumani – who has put up a stall in the three-day Film Market at the Hillside Su Hotel which opened yesterday. In addition, the Market has three delegates – Kamal Jain of Superfine Films and Sashi B Kumar of Mudra Arts. Though the Market lists at least three others including Ultra’s S. Narayanan and Sunil Doshi of Alliance Media (which procures films for NDTV Lumiere), they failed to turn up. Interestingly, Spierfilms of the United Kingdom which also has a stall in the Market has been marketing some Indian films like those by Priyadarshan.

Interestingly, one Indian film which was slated for a Gala Screening here – the  action packed Hindi thriller ‘Mission Istanbul’ directed by Apoorva Lakhia - was cancelled because of what a Festival spokesperson described as a break of communication between the Indian distributor and the Festival authorities.

Meanwhile, addressing the grandiose inauguration last night, Festival President and the President of TÜRSAK Engin Yiðitgil said cinema was now a reflection of the truths that surround people in their everyday lives snf shows the challenges that face peopleç He saud cınema could not remaın iunaffected by all that ıs happenıng around us’. The Honorary President of the Festival, Mayor of Antalya Metropolitan Municipality Menderes Türel said the festival was a meetýng point of Asia and Europe and provided the gateway to world cinema. He said the Mayor at that time had started the Festival fortyfive years earlier to promote Antalya as a tourist centre, but the Festival now had a distinct identity of its own.

While the large gathering at the inaugural venue was held spell-bound by the highly popular singer Candan Encetin who performed for almost two hours, several senior personalities of Turkish cinema were honoured for their contributions. They included actress Hulya Avsar who received an award as a successful star, honorary award went to SESAM (Union of Professional Owners of Cinema Works) President Yılmaz Atadeniz, renowned actor Musfit Kenter who received the Yildrim Onal Memorial Award, and actress Filiz Akin who received a special medallion of the Golden Orange.

The 9-member jury headed by actor Tuncel Kurtiz will adjudge the Turkish feature films, a five member jury headed by director Selim Demirdelen will adjudge the National Short film competition and another five member jury headed by Güneş Karabuda – Director (Jury President) will examine the entries for documentaries. There is also a jury for script development.

 

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