EMINE – ‘Winter Sleep’ tops 2014’s best Turkish films

‘Winter Sleep’ tops 2014’s best Turkish filmsThe year 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of Turkeyandrsquos aenture in the moving picture industry, and the centenary was crowned with a Palme dandrsquoOr for auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan in Cannes for his latest endeavor, andldquoKII Uykusuandrdquo (Winter Sleep).Although this critical favorite didnandrsquot make it to the nine-film list of nominees for the upcoming Best Foreign Language Film in the Oscar race, announced last week, it did make it to Todayandrsquos Zamanandrsquos annual list of top 10 Turkish films of the year — at the top spot.

Hereandrsquos our selection of the yearandrsquos best cinematic offerings from Turkey:1) andldquoWinter Sleepandrdquo: Nuri Bilge Ceylanandrsquos Palme dandrsquoOr-winning three-hour drama might not be everyoneandrsquos cup of tea, but the masterandrsquos latest tale, inspired by a Chekhovian twist, is so stunningly shot and acted that it is bound to become a classic. andldquoWinter Sleepandrsquosandrdquo multi-layered narrative addressing the concepts of power, ego and class divide is intelligently relayed through the dilemmas of a hotel owner in Cappadocia, who is a wolf in sheepandrsquos clothing.

2) andldquoKksuzandrdquo (Nobodyandrsquos Home): A personal favorite, Deniz Akayandrsquos debut film is one that shocks the audience with a very familiar story that could take place anywhere in the Mediterranean basin. With the help of an almost all-female cast, andldquoNobodyandrsquos Homeandrdquo tells a gut-wrenching tragedy taking place within a matriarchal family unit that tries to keep its sanity after the trauma of losing their patriarch.

Akay is not only a promising director, she is also a great screenwriter3) andldquoSivasandrdquo: Another debut in the top half of the list. andldquoSivasandrdquo is Berlin-based filmmaker Kaan Mujdeciandrsquos debut, which went on to compete at the Venice Film Festival this year This is the wild tale of a kid and his dog roaming through a jagged life of poverty in the Anatolian steppes, but donandrsquot be fooled, there is no hint of Lassie here.

Its unapologetic take on masculinity and violence makes this coming-of-age film hard to forget.4) andldquoItirazIm Varandrdquo (Letandrsquos Sin): Onur unluandrsquos detective spoof mixed with various doses of black comedy makes andldquoLetandrsquos Sinandrdquo one of the most outright politically critical and funny films of the year Following the aentures of an imam-turned-detective played by Serkan Keskin, outshining every other actor in Turkey this year, the film delves into the exploitation of religion for profiteering and also makes points about the unruliness of contemporary gentrification policies.

5) andldquoMavi Dalgaandrdquo (The Blue Wave): Zeynep Dadak and Merve Kayanandrsquos observational coming-of-age story might be taken lightly by some, but its subtle implications regarding sexuality, gender politics and shaky friendships make it an evocative piece of work that addresses the subconscious mind. Supported by a brilliantly dreamy soundtrack by the band Kim Ki O and cinematography that manages to create the right kind of nostalgia for teenagers who grew up in Turkeyandrsquos western cities, andldquoThe Blue Waveandrdquo is a debut film that brings about a unique visual experience.

6) andldquoBen O DeIilimandrdquo (Iandrsquom Not Him): Tayfun PirselimoIluandrsquos latest festival gem is grounded in its misery and no-nonsense approach to life, yet the deeply existential questions this film asks through the events that take hold of Ercan Kesalandrsquos doppelganger character transform the film into a philosophical gold mine for those who expect intellectual stimulation from cinema PirselimoIlu is just like Lewis Carroll, and we are Alice as we plunge down his authentic rabbit hole.7) andldquoKarIIIk Kasetandrdquo (Mixtape): Tun Iahinandrsquos romantic comedy radiates like a golden retriever you just want to hug and immediately adopt.

An articulately written bumpy romance taking place between two childhood friends, the first half of andldquoMixtapeandrdquo sometimes evokes the style of Paul Auster, while its second half becomes a blasting comedy making use of misunderstandings. An immaculate soundtrack consisting of classy and collectively influential Turkish pop songs is a bonus.

8) andldquoAnnemin IarkIsIandrdquo (Song of My Mother): Erol MintaIandrsquos heartwarming and politically conscious debut is a unique example of Kurdish cinema The story takes place in Istanbul and unfolds between different generations of Kurds as they deal with daily life and have to face cultural differences, the notion of identity and loss. The film is also visually alluring in its background exploration of the gentrification and real estate boom that Istanbul has been undergoing in the past 15 years.

9) andldquoPek YakIndaandrdquo (Coming Soon): Cem YIlmazandrsquos cozy and comical piece of family entertainment is also a nostalgic and self-reflexive take on the heyday of YeIilam Perhaps the film is 20 minutes too long for its own good, but YIlmaz proves that beyond acting, he is also an able director who is becoming a master in comedic precision. The film also scored high at the box office, and itandrsquos great to see Tulin zen — a regular of art-house films — in a mainstream movie where she can display her talent to a wider audience.

10) andldquoSilsileandrdquo: Ozan AIktanandrsquos urban thriller also deals with the important subject of gentrification and does not shy away from criticizing the contempt and cruelty of the upper-class artistcreative crowd in their handling of the lower-income classes, which they rely on to clean their messes. AIktanandrsquos previous films were blockbuster comedies, and itandrsquos good to see that the director has great potential for something more serious.

Serkan Keskin and Esra Bezen Bilginandrsquos supporting roles were particularly noteworthy.Editorandrsquos note: We would like to add andldquoKusursuzlarandrdquo (The Impeccables), a psychological suspense story with a script written by Todayandrsquos Zaman critic Emine YIldIrIm, as the 11th entry to this selection, although it has been left out by the writer for obvious reasons.

With its two major award wins — best film and best director — at the 2013 Antalya AltIn Portakal (Golden Orange) International Film Festival and the best screenplay and criticsandrsquo awards at the 2014 Ankara Film Festival, andldquoKusursuzlarandrdquo was among this yearandrsquos noteworthy films. The film was the sophomoric effort of director Ramin Matin (andldquoThe Monstersandrsquo Dinnerandrdquo) and had its theatrical release in January 2014.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman