Day one

Nothing too exciting to report back. My first and what ended up to be my last screening of the day was of Jean Luc Godard’s latest picture “Film socialism”.

To my surprise, the print went up without English subtitles. My understanding of the French language is limited. Needless to say it would be unfair for me to seriously critique the picture. What I can say, is from a stylistic point of view, those familiar with Godard’s recent works won’t find any real surprises here. Godard manages to pull out all of his signature gimmicks (Jump cuts, abrupt off screen audio of automatic weapons and or violent acts, vérité inspired static shots with limited blocking, and a whole slew of talking head segments featuring characters romantically preaching about politics.) Call me jaded but I have found myself disliking Godard for all the reasons I found him inspirational as a child. Still gotta give the guy credit for nearly a 1/2 century of filmmaking. Who knows, maybe the film was lost in translation.

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Film schedule confirmed

looks like I lucked out this year. My order form was in box number 10. Box number 9 of 39 was drawn. Needless to say I got all of my selections. Here is my official confirmed schedule:

2010 090918RY Film Socialism THU 09/09/2010 06:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Ryerson Theatre
2010 090923RY Fubar II with SCC… THU 09/09/2010 11:59pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Ryerson Theatre
2010 091014A3 Mandoo FRI 09/10/2010 02:30pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #3
2010 091018F2 Poetry FRI 09/10/2010 06:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Scotiabank 2
2010 091020A4 Guest FRI 09/10/2010 08:30pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC 4
2010 091109A5 Erotic Man SAT 09/11/2010 09:45am 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #5
2010 091112A4 The Four Times SAT 09/11/2010 12:15pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC 4
2010 091115A3 OUTBOUND SAT 09/11/2010 03:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #3
2010 091118V7 My Joy SAT 09/11/2010 06:15pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Varsity 7
2010 091121F4 State of Violence SAT 09/11/2010 09:30pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Scotiabank 4
2010 091213A5 A Useful Life SUN 09/12/2010 01:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #5
2010 091218A7 The Hunter SUN 09/12/2010 06:45pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC 7
2010 091220B1 Mothers SUN 09/12/2010 08:30pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 1
2010 091312V7 40 MON 09/13/2010 12:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Varsity 7
2010 091314V7 Somersault in a Coffin MON 09/13/2010 02:45pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Varsity 7
2010 091318EL Another Year MON 09/13/2010 06:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Visa Screening Room (Elgin)
2010 091321IB Lope MON 09/13/2010 09:15pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Isabel Bader Theatre
2010 091415V7 Soul of Sand TUE 09/14/2010 03:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Varsity 7
2010 091418V7 Half of Oscar TUE 09/14/2010 06:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Varsity 7
2010 091419F3 Womb TUE 09/14/2010 07:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) General Admission
2010 091420A6 ATTENBERG TUE 09/14/2010 08:30pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #6
2010 091421F4 Tender Son – The Frankenstein TUE 09/14/2010 09:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Scotiabank 4
2010 091514A3 Blessed Events WED 09/15/2010 02:45pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #3
2010 091518A6 Womb WED 09/15/2010 06:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #6
2010 091521B1 The Solitude Of Prime Numbers WED 09/15/2010 09:45pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 1
2010 091614A0 The Ditch THU 09/16/2010 02:15pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #10
2010 091616IB A Screaming Man THU 09/16/2010 04:45pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Isabel Bader Theatre
2010 091618V7 Tender Son – The Frankenstein THU 09/16/2010 06:30pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Varsity 7
2010 091622IB Uncle Boonmee Who Can… THU 09/16/2010 10:30pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Isabel Bader Theatre
2010 091714F1 Oki’s Movie FRI 09/17/2010 02:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Scotiabank 1
2010 091717JH I Wish I Knew FRI 09/17/2010 05:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Jackman Hall (AGO)
2010 091720F3 Armadillo FRI 09/17/2010 08:15pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) General Admission
2010 091722IB Deep in the Woods FRI 09/17/2010 10:45pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Isabel Bader Theatre
2010 091809A5 Uncle Boonmee Who Can… SAT 09/18/2010 09:15am 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #5
2010 091809A6 Silent Souls SAT 09/18/2010 09:30am 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #6
2010 091812F3 Neds SAT 09/18/2010 12:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) General Admission
2010 091816B3 Mavericks: Apichatpong… SAT 09/18/2010 04:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 3
2010 091818F1 The Promise: The Making of… SAT 09/18/2010 06:30pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Scotiabank 1
2010 0918201F Leap Year SAT 09/18/2010 08:15pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) Scotiabank 11
2010 091909A2 The Sleeping Beauty SUN 09/19/2010 09:00am 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #2
2010 091910A5 Zephyr SUN 09/19/2010 10:30am 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #5
2010 091913A0 GENPIN SUN 09/19/2010 01:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC Yonge Dundas 24 #10
2010 091916B3 My Only Sunshine SUN 09/19/2010 04:00pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 3
2010 091918A7 Mysteries of Lisbon SUN 09/19/2010 06:30pm 1 $0.00
50-FLM “H” (1) AMC 7
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SURPRISE!

Well what do you know. Turns out this years City to City program is doing a spotlight on Istanbul, conveniently enough coinciding with my last 2 posts. Here is the film list:

10 to 11 Pelin Esmer, Turkey/France/Germany
North American Premiere
An elderly man clashes with his neighbours as they try to remove him – and his elaborate collections of ephemera — from his apartment.

40 Emre Sahin, Turkey
International Premiere
Capturing the dazzling intensity of Istanbul’s 12 million souls, Sahin’s groundbreaking feature crisscrosses the lives of a petty crook, an ambitious nurse and an African migrant as they seek money, luck or just a way out.

Block-C Zeki Demirkubuz, Turkey Canadian Premiere
Zeki Demirkubuz’s career-launching debut feature dissects the melancholy and repression inherent in bourgeois life in dreary apartment blocks.

Dark Cloud Theron Patterson, Turkey
North American Premiere
A black comedy in the style of a lucid dream, Dark Cloud looks at a middle-aged man who can’t move on from the death of his wife, and the teenaged son who needs him to wake up.

Distant Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey
Distant maps Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s signature exploration of existential heartache onto the wintry shores of Istanbul.

Hair Tayfun Pirselimoğlu, Turkey
North American Premiere
An ailing Istanbul wig-maker becomes obsessed with a woman who enters his shop one day.

The Majority Seren Yüce, Turkey
North American Premiere
A young middle-class man rebels against his father’s brutish authority and seeks a rough romance with a woman of ethnic minority. Yüce’s moral tale draws from the example of today’s Turkish youth and the timeless shadow of fathers over sons.

My Only Sunshine Reha Erdem, Turkey/Greece/Bulgaria
Toronto Premiere
In this potent, widescreen portrait of an Istanbul wild child, Hayat lives in a shack beside the Bosphorus sea with her criminal father and wheezing grandfather. Life is harsh, but Hayat watches and learns.

September 12 Özlem Sulak, Turkey/Germany
North American Premiere
In this meditative and monumental examination of the legacy of Turkey’s 1980 military coup, individual narrations of the tumultuous event are juxtaposed with quotidian routines, 30 years on.

Somersault in a Coffin Dervis Zaim, Turkey
A thief with bizarre compulsions – and possibly good reasons – tries to get by in this essential Istanbul film.

Some pretty solid selections in there. Finally Reha Erdem’s My Only Sunshine will be getting a Toronto theatrical run!

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The Yusuf Trilogy

Semih Kaplanoglu is another key player in new Turkish cinema. Bal, his latest picture premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, taking home the Golden Bear, the festival’s award of highest regard. Bal is the third and final installment in Kaplanoglu’s semi-autobiographical trilogy.

The series traces the origins of its main character, Yusuf’s soul. It begins with Yumurta, the tale of middle-aged Yusuf, a poet/intellect who is forced to re examine his values and beliefs, after the death of his mother. Yusuf returns to his long abandoned hometown for his mother’s burial. Ayla, his mother’s caretaker greets him. Ayla explains his mother Zehra’s final wish. She request Yusuf to carry through with a sacrificial rite, Zehra was unable to complete. Yusuf reluctantly sets out with Ayla to the saint’s tomb to perform the task. The couple arrives in the evening, when the shepard is unable to locate the herd. Forced to linger until dawn for the shepard and his herd return, they decide to find a place to rest. Yusuf and Ayla find themselves in an obscenely large banquet hall/hotel. The two split up to explore the facilities and cross paths shortly after in one of the wedding banquets. The wedding party is a significant change of pace. For the first time in the picture, both characters are at ease. The following morning they return and follow through with the sacrifice. Neither Yusuf nor Ayla are contented, but they both seem to find comfort in each other’s discomfort. After the ceremony Yusuf must return Ayla to his hometown before returning to Istanbul. The couple part refusing to show any signs of emotion, but are both internally perplexed. Yusuf leaves town and gets in an accident, triggering a life-changing breakdown.

Second in the trilogy is a picture called Süt. Süt follows Yusuf as he enters adulthood, post high school graduation. Yusuf discovers his true passion in poetry, and has a few of his poems published in literary journals. Despite his success, he fails his university entrance exam, and is forced to sell milk in the towns market with his mother Zehra. Their business is quickly diminishing due the abundance of larger supermarkets opening in the town. The picture reflects upon the recent upheaval in Turkey. Kaplanoglu points out especially on the outskirts of towns and in rural areas. Yusuf and his mother quickly begin to drift apart. Zehra finds emancipation while Yusuf finds refuge in tradition.

Bal is the final chapter in the trilogy. Bal documents the early stages of Yusuf’s childhood. Yusuf is a quiet imaginative country boy from a proletariat family, who is terrorized by his classmates due to his stutter. Yusuf shares a strong bond with his father Yakup; a renowned beekeeper that scales large trees to plant hives at high altitudes. Yakup shows Yusuf his trade, taking his son into the forest. The young imaginative boy is drawn to the quiet, mystical landscapes. Yakup leaves to work on a large risky assignment. Days after his fathers departure, Yusuf remains locked up with his mother in the family’s poorly lit shack. Yusuf begins to notice his mother’s low moral, and refuses to speak. Unwilling to accept his father disappearance, Yusuf flees his house on a personal, yet spiritual journey to into the deep depths of the forest.

Kaplanoglu chooses to use absolutely no music, and minimal cuts in his pictures to create a certain sense of realism. Despite the fact that his characters are often distant or reluctant to show emotion, Kaplanoglu’s Yusuf trilogy subtextually delves deep into the souls of not only its characters, but also their nation.

Expect to shortly hear Bal announced amoungst the festival’s 2010 line up. For more information on Semih Kaplanoglu or other titles in the Yusuf Trilogy please visit www.kaplanfilm.com/en.

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Reha Erdem & Kosmos

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet up with Turkish auteur Reha Erdem in Istanbul for the local premier of his new film Kosmos.

Reha has recently become a major player in new Turkish cinema. His career began in 1988 with the release of his first feature film A ay. The film had a limited festival run with minor acclaim. After it’s release Reha spent eleven years struggling to find funding for his next picture. He found himself doing technical work on television series and commercials. In 1999 Reha and his long time friend/producer Ömer Atay finally received funding for their picture A Run for Money. Reha was discouraged. The film achieved minimal international success, but Omer continued to push Reha. In 2006 his film Times and Winds opened at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film was a huge success. Suddenly international distributors were fighting for distribution rights. Erdem demonstrated a significant change of style and pace in 2008 with his film My Only Sunshine. A considerably more difficult film told through the eyes of an abused young woman. The film traveled around the world, introducing a larger audience to Erdem’s work. Reha is now back doing rounds in the festival circuits with his latest picture Kosmos.

Kosmos is the story of a healer who appears in a small artic town. The audience is told virtually nothing about his past. When Kosmos appears, he seeks love. The object of his affection is local girl that seems to share a similar a mating call. He resides in an abandoned warehouse, when offered work as a laborer Kosmos declines. Instead he decides to support himself and a series of less fortunate towns people by stealing from local shops. Kosmos meets a young mute boy. After a brief encounter with Kosmos the boy is cured. Shortly after others line up outside his warehouse looking to be cured of illness and injury. In an attempt to avoid the crowds Kosmos flees his warehouse and runs into the boy he cured. The two play out in a large open field, but after a sudden turn of events things turn sour.

Similar to My Only Sunshine, Kosmos is a very transcendental film. Both leads are faced with a great deal of emotional turmoil. Contrary to the imagery, guns, bombs and sirens can be heard in the distance when both characters are left to battle interpersonal wars. Akin to Michelangelo Antonioni’s late works, the scenery in which Reha’s characters interact is equally as important as the characters themselves. In Kosmos, Erdem creates a surreal sci-fi world that heavily relies on the films sound mix and rhythmic pace. Surroundings that otherwise would look familiar, become foreign when mixed with muffled analog buzzing and bizarre room tones. Like it or not, this is a picture that lingers with it’s viewers.

Kosmos stands a very good chance of receiving a Toronto screening at this year’s festival. The Toronto International Film Festival group will be having their annual opening press conference on Tuesday July 27th at 10:00am. Expect to see this and many other titles announced.

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On Critics

Film is one of the most subjective forms of media that exists. I could go to great lengths explaining why I feel a filmmaker like Quintin Tarrentino’s films are nothing but a series of cliché, self-involved, recycled works, many would disagree.

In 2000 I had the opportunity to view filmmaker Edward Yang’s first and last film distributed in North America, a film called “Yi Yi”. A multi layered long-winded drama set in Taiwan, that put simply was about life. The picture documents mental and spiritual development in a large group of characters from all different age groups. The film’s most common reoccurring theme was the relationship between art and business, a theme very common in Yang’s work. By the time the credits rolled I was a train wreck, sitting by myself in a packed theater, sandwiched between two elderly couples balling my eyes out. He’s got it, I thought. The human condition, the meaning of life, Edward Yang has the answers! Being about as emotionally unstable as a cocaine addict coming down from a three day bender, I finally felt like I had a purpose in life. I had to get on the phone and quick. It was my responsibility to share this life changing experience with as many people as physically possible.

Unfortunately it took nearly two years before I could get my hands on a copy of Yi Yi. As soon as I unwrapped the DVD, the first thing I did was pull my mother aside and force her to watch it. About fifteen minutes into the picture my mother could no longer take it. She was looking at just about everything in the room, but the television, digging for objects in between the couch that she could play with. Angrily I yelled at my mother “watch the film!” She honest to god put in her best efforts, but when she discovered the picture was over 3 hours long, she could no longer withstand the “torture”. “What’s wrong with you? That has to be the most boring thing I have ever seen in my entire life. I would rather watch paint dry,” Pissed off at her reception of “the greatest film in the world” I told my mother she was a philistine and ejected the DVD. The next day I went over to a friend’s house with the DVD and got a near identical response. I think she even mentioned something about paint drying.

Here’s what I am getting at. I hate critics, yet the majority of this article is a critique. I have created this blog as an outlet to share what I love with others. If any of the information posted leads someone to discover their Yi Yi, I am thrilled. Let it be known that you are not alone and there are other weirdo’s out there that like glacially paced films! Although at the end of the day, I have to confess I am in this for selfish reasons. It’s near impossible to lock yourself in dark theaters for 10 consecutive days, 17 hours a day, and maintain sanity. Blogging is significantly cheaper than seeing a shrink.

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