Celebrating its 41st anniversary this year, the long-running film festival returns to theatres after a two year absence due to the pandemic.

Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) is organising the 41st edition of the Istanbul Film Festival. Unlike the previous two years tainted by the pandemic when screenings moved online, this year the festival will be back in theatres.

The festival will take place in a total of seven theatres: Atlas 1948, Beyoglu Sinemasi, Pera Museum Auditorium in Beyoglu, CineWAM Premium+ City's (Salon 3 and Salon 7) in Nisantasi, and Kadikoy Sinemasi and Kadikoy Belediyesi Sinematek/Sinema Evi in Kadikoy.

The festival will begin on April 8 and continue through to April 19, 2022. IKSV will screen 135 features and 22 shorts by a total of 164 directors from 43 countries.

Asked if there will be films from Russia during a news conference, festival director Kerem Ayan said affirmatively that there will be. “Besides, the Russian directors whose films we’re screening are also against war. We’re also showing Ukrainian films, and we believe in the unifying power of art,” he said to subdued applause.

IKSV General Manager Gorgun Taner reminisced about one of the founders of the festival, Onat Kutlar, and quoted from an article Kutlar wrote on the 10th anniversary of the festival: “For ten years, every early spring brings an awakening from a winter slumber to this city. It becomes alive, beautiful, with a smile on its face. The city starts to move.”

Taner went on to say that as we await the spring impatiently this year, “we all need the festivities that cinema will bring us.” He added that the festival continues to inspire viewers and filmmakers alike with the local productions it supports, the lasting relations it builds with world festivals and the incentives given to the youth.

“We are glad that our festival is an activity that screens the best, the most interesting films under creative themes as well as Meetings on the Bridge and its awards,” he said, before thanking the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and all other sponsors of the festival.

One of the posters for the film festival features a scene from A Song to Long For, starring Cahide Sonku and Zeki Muren.
One of the posters for the film festival features a scene from A Song to Long For, starring Cahide Sonku and Zeki Muren. (Monroe / Courtesy of IKSV)

Ayan gave a detailed summary of the festival programming and listed the films that would compete in the International Competition, National Competition, National Documentary, National Shorts as well as Young Masters, which for the first time in its history would become a competition category with the Seyfi Teoman First Film Award, named after an award-winning young filmmaker who tragically lost his life after a motorcycle accident.

‘Meetings on the Bridge’ director Gulin Ustun explained the co-production platform that brings together producers, directors and screenwriters from Türkiye and neighbouring countries for the 17th time.

Highlights of the festival include the opening film, Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush, by Andreas Dresen, portrays a Turkish mother determined to get her son out of Guantanamo. Actor Meltem Kaplan, as the title character, won a Best Leading Performance award at Berlinale.

There is also A Song to Long For, a black & white Turkish film newly restored in 4K from 1953, co-directed by Cahide Sonku and starring the unforgettable performer and singer Zeki Muren that will bring feelings of nostalgia to the fore.

The unforgettable director of spaghetti Westerns Sergio Leone makes an appearance with all his films, so if you’ve ever wanted to see his oeuvre on the big screen, now is your chance.

The ‘Best of the Fests’ brings together a selection of films that screened earlier in worldwide festivals and is sure not to disappoint. Make sure you take a look at the offerings. Likewise, you cannot go wrong by picking films from the International Competition or the National Competition.

Similarly, Galas offers an immaculate selection of films soon to be released in Türkiye; including Rabiye Kurnaz and Francois Ozon’s Peter von Kant which reverses the title role of RW Fassbinder’s cult classic The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. (This is not the first time Ozon has wandered into Fassbinder territory: his Water Drops on Burning Rocks is also a Fassbinder adaptation.)

The Antidepressant series features some that are bittersweet and some that are quirky. The films are broadly defined as comedies, and if you’re in the mood for something uplifting, check them out.

IKSV, celebrating its 50th founding anniversary, has, once again, put together an amazing selection of films for the 41st Istanbul Film Festival. Tickets go on sale on April 1, and most sell out even before then, during the presale to Tulip Card holders, so don’t sleep on it.

Happy viewings!

THUMBNAIL IMAGE: Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (Italy / USA) is part of the Leone retrospective featured in the 41st Istanbul Film Festival.

HEADLINE IMAGE: Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov’s Captain Volkgonov Escaped (Russia / France / Estonia) tells the tale of a captain trying to escape persecution in the USSR.

Source: TRT World