Antalya receives the world at its Golden Orange and Eurasia film festivals

Antalya receives the world at its 
   Golden Orange and Eurasia film festivals

October 12, 2008, Sunday/ 12:05:00
Known as Turkey’s premier fun-in-the-sun tourist spot, Antalya also has a flourishing cut flower exporting reputation. But from Friday to Oct. 19, it takes on the chic, expectant air of Cannes as a cinema city.
Film buffs can enjoy pre-release runs at the annual Altın Portakal (Golden Orange) and Eurasia Film Festival screenings. Celebrities can shine in the last of the Mediterranean warmth at this year’s 45th Golden Orange and fourth Eurasia festivals.

Glitter and glamour are synonymous with the film industry but this year’s Eurasia Film Festival has marketing in its sights and wants to be a “bazaar” for global cinema. The festival has united continents and will launch premieres of more than 60 film titles from around the world. They are not just for watching. Over 37 high profile international buyers, film marketing companies, distributors and broadcasters have marketing stands and are in Antalya for sales and industry talks, one-on-one meetings and workshops.

From whichever direction you arrive in Antalya, you will see that serious promotion and dedicated sponsorship are at work. The Turkish Foundation of Cinema and Audiovisual Culture (TÜRSAK), which organizes the festival, has succeeded in turning Turkey’s somewhat poor promotion reputation completely on its ear. Antalya’s go-ahead mayor, Menderes Türel, has been paying more than lip service to progressive cultural events. He is actively involved as honorary chairman of the festival and ranks culture high on the urban agenda. Antalya also has a local Foundation for Culture and Art (AKSAV) that supports the festivals.

Antalya may be in a festive mood and rolling out the red carpet but in his opening speech at the Hillside Su Hotel, where the marketing fair is held, Mayor Türel revealed his intention to make Antalya a strategic commercial cinema market.

“In olden days, we transported silks and spices. Today, cinema and films are being bought and sold, bartered and traded in Antalya and we are connecting with the world in a dynamic and cultural way,” Türel stated in his opening speech on Friday. He later toured all the stands in the market place with TÜRSAK Director Engin Yiğitgil.

The fourth Eurasia Film Festival was to get under way with a screening of Turkish film director Ferzan Özpetek’s “Un Giorno Perfetto” (A Perfect Day) on Saturday. The film was adapted from a novel and premiered at the Venice Film Festival, moved on to the Toronto International Film Festival and also made waves at the Rio de Janeiro Film Festival. Özpetek is the brother of well-known actress Zeynep Aksu. Both Özpetek and producer, Domenico Procacci, will be guests at the festival along with the cast. There are a total of 16 films in the lineup.

Wrapping up the Eurasia festival on Oct. 18 will be “The Brothers Bloom,” starring Adrien Brody and Mark Rufallo as the conman brothers and Rachel Weisz as a feisty Penelope who turns out to be as smart, if not more so, than the Blooms. It was written and directed by Brian Johnson and was shown at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

About 34 of the Antalya festival films are imported. There are several categories in front of judges and juries. These include the National Feature Film Competition, National Documentary Film Competition and the National Short Film Competition. There is a special screening program that will present “Mustafa,” an ambitious film about Turkey’s equally ambitious founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, by veteran documentary maker and broadcaster Can Dündar. Some films are competing in several categories.

Films are being screened in the Antalya Culture Center (AKM) throughout the festival. The full program is available from TÜRSAK’s Web site,, which has an English portal.

Some films to checklist from the Golden Orange festival are:

 “Üç Maymun” (Three Monkeys), directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, has already been released in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The depressing emotional plot is about concealing the truth.

 “One Day You’ll Understand” by Israel’s most celebrated contemporary director Amos Gitai. This film will have its premiere in Antalya.

 “Towel Head,” directed by Alan Ball and set during the Gulf War. A disturbing, sexually charged film destined to be a masterpiece.

 “Gomorrah,” directed by Matteo Garrone, exemplifies the fixation with the mafia that feeds its enduring power to pull in viewers.

From the Eurasia Film Festival, keep your eye on these Turkish films:

 “Three Apples Fell From the Sky”: From Raşit Çelikezer comes a film about a run-away boy who takes refuge with a relative he has never met.

 “Dot” (Nokta): The newest film from Turkish director Derviş Zaim, featuring crime, punishment and the use of calligraphy in language and content.

 “Pandora’s Box”: A Black Sea family drama characterized by many tensions, directed by Yeşim Ustaoğlu.

 “Süt” (Milk): Relationships and coming to terms with manhood in a Turkish provincial setting in this raw-ish film directed by Semih Kaplanoğlu.

The judges of the grand jury are a multi-talented group of global cinema names headed by luminary Dutch-American director Paul Verhoeven. Look for Joan Chen, who stars in one of the participating films, “24 City.” Turkish stage director Berkun Oya will be one of the decision makers. Cameron Bailey arrives fresh from Toronto’s dazzling international film festival (he is co-director), an “experience” defined as much by who is in town as who is on the screen.

Of course cinema would be nothing without celebrities and the curtain is up on some legendary personalities who are in Antalya. Michael York will receive an Honorary Award at the festival, as will the head of the grand jury, Verhoeven. Brody is here for the premiere of the film he stars in, “The Brothers Bloom.” Also on hand at the Eurasia film scene is Mickey Rourke, who hits out as Randy “the comeback ram” Robinson in “The Wrestler,” another film making an entrée in Antalya. The film’s co-star and Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei will be in attendance. Jacqueline Bisset, Michael Ironside, Billie August and silver screen veteran Maximilian Schell are not only walking the red carpet but sending a cultural frisson through Antalya.

Antalya can be forgiven for preening itself. It is glorious, full of energy and fun and it deserves the spotlight; and why not the limelight? It looks destined to be not just a cinema city but a global film market.

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