02 December 2012

Dispatches from the Festival on Wheels

The Festival on Wheels (moving pictures! Get it?) is in Ankara this week, which gives me the rare opportunity to see foreign (and Turkish!) films with English subtitles. I'm eating it up, though unfortunately I was a little slow getting to the box office, and some of the films were sold out. But here's what I've covered so far...

Şimdiki Zaman / Present Tense
A film about a young woman who is struggling financially, and takes a job as a fortune tellers, reading coffee grounds, in an effort to save enough money for a visa to the States. But every reading she gives seems to be about her own life. It's an interesting premise, but it doesn't quite work. There's not quite enough narrative to give it momentum, and the characters are a little too vague. It is, however, gorgeous, cinematographically.

Babamın Sesi / My Father's Voice
A slow burn. I was impressed when I saw it, but all day today I find myself thinking about it. I have to say, it's pretty politically charged, much more than I would have expected. It's sparse and subtle, but there's a lot going on beneath the surface. The film balances three story lines, in a way - there's a young man who is trying to connect to his mother. She, meanwhile, is obsessed with her other son, Hasan, who has emigrated. Her husband, their father, also lived abroad, and because the woman cannot read or write, they would send each other tapes. These tapes are layered over the narrative, revealing a gradually unfolding past as the children grow up, and Hasan starts getting into trouble. What is startling about the tapes, actually, is how unsentimental they are. Actually, they're often pretty harsh, giving a vivid sense of just how hard life is for this family. It sounds grim, and I guess it is, but its not a depressing film, maybe partly because again, the cinematography is so beautiful. I really hope this one gets wider distribution. It's excellent.

Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000
Apparently this is a classic of French cinema in the 70s (though it's actually Swiss). It's entertaining in the way all films of that time period are. Lots of bizarre antics and discussions of Marx, not much in the way of storyline. The theatre was hot and stuffy and I dozed a little. But it was enjoyable enough.

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
An Italian film from 1970, about a man so respected by his peers that he cannot be found guilty of a crime, despite blatant evidence. Deliriously bizarre and wonderful. An absolute classic. Hilarious and completely insane. Great music, too. I watched it an hour go and I already want to watch it again.

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