Turkish Director Ceylan Brings Home Latest Cannes Honor

Image Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan picked up another international award Sunday, winning the prestigious Cannes Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for his most recent work, “Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da” (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia).

“Thank you for selecting my long and difficult movie one more time,” Ceylan said at the award ceremony, adding that he did not expect to win the prize.

“Screening it on the last day, I thought it would be too tiring for the jury,” the director said in a press conference following the announcement. “We thought that the jury members, press members and audiences would be tired and our film is one that is hard to watch.”

When asked if he felt burdened by a responsibility to present Turkish cinema to the world, Ceylan said, “Turkish cinema is changing for the better.”

The director shared the prize with Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, two-time winners of the Palme d’Or, for their troubled-youth drama “The Kid With a Bike.”

Produced by Zeynep Özbatur Atakan, the 150-minute “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” tells the story of police officers looking for a dead man in the hills of Anatolia. When the body is at last unearthed, themes of guilt and adultery come to the surface.

The cast includes Yılmaz Erdoğan, Taner Birsel, Muammer Uzuner and Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan. A co-production between Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the film received support from Eurimages, the Council of Europe’s fund for the co-production, distribution and exhibition of European cinematographic works.

US drama honored with top prize

While Ceylan celebrated his success, U.S. director Terrence Malick took home the festival’s top honor for his expansive drama “The Tree of Life.”

Producers Dede Gardner and Bill Pohlad accepted the Palme d’Or on behalf of the notoriously press-shy Malick, who skipped all public events at the glamorous Cannes festival.

The film, which opens Friday in the United States, stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain in a far-flung story of family life that plays out against a cosmic backdrop, including glorious visuals of the creation of the universe and the era of dinosaurs.

Prizes were awarded by a nine-member jury headed by Robert De Niro that included actors Uma Thurman and Jude Law.

“The Tree of Life” is the first American film to win top honors at Cannes since back-to-back recipients in 2003 (Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant”) and 2004 (Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11”).

De Niro told reporters choosing the top winner was difficult because of the range and “great qualities” among the 20 competing titles but that “The Tree of Life” ultimately fit the bill.

Kirsten Dunst, meanwhile, took the best actress prize for her role in the apocalyptic saga “Melancholia,” whose director, Denmark’s Lars von Trier, was banned from the festival after expressing sympathy for Adolf Hitler at a movie press conference. Von Trier later apologized, but it failed to stop festival organizers declaring him “persona non grata” – a move that effectively barred him from the awards night even as his the end-of-the-world tale was allowed to remain in the competition.

“It’s an honor that is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for an actress,” said Dunst, 29, who thanked festival organizers for allowing “Melancholia” to remain in the competition after von Trier’s departure.

Despite the controversy, Dunst had warm words for her director. “I want to thank Lars for giving me the opportunity to be so brave,” she said.

Jean Dujardin claimed the best actor prize for the silent film “The Artist,” in which he plays a 1920s Hollywood star whose career crumbles as talking pictures become the norm. In keeping with his singing, hoofing character, Dujardin did a little tap dance as he took to the Cannes stage.

Another Danish director, Nicolas Winding Refn, won the best director prize for his high-octane film noir “Drive,” about a stuntman who moonlights as a getaway car driver in Los Angeles.

French actress-turned-director Maiwenn Le Besco – commonly known simply as Maiwenn – won the jury prize for the third police story to receive a Cannes nod, “Poliss.”

The screenplay award went to Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar for “Footnote,” his tale of rival father and son Talmudic scholars.

Ceylan’s Cannes adventures

Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s first short film, “Koza” (Cocoon), was screened in the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.

His third feature, “Uzak” (Distant), received many awards including the Grand Jury Prize and the Best Actor Prize at Cannes in 2003.

Later, Ceylan’s 2006 film, “İklimler” (Climates), won the FIPRESCI Movie Critics’ Award at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, while the filmmaker also picked up Cannes’ best director award at the 2008 edition for “Üç Maymun” (Three Monkeys).

Ceylan served as a jury member for the International Competition at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Source: Hurrlyet Daily News
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07