Luminaries of the big screen in Turkey, from Türkan Şoray to İzzet Günay and from Serra Yılmaz to Mehmet Günsür, recounted their memories of the İstanbul film festival onstage on Friday as the event’s 30th edition got under way with a gala at the Lütfi Kırdar Congress and Exhibition Center.
Stars of Turkish cinema ranging from Hale Soygazi to Saadet Işıl Aksoy and from Mert Fırat to Özgü Namal as well as internationally acclaimed filmmakers Semih Kaplanoğlu and Yeşim Ustaoğlu shared colorful anecdotes about the three-decade history of the festival, accompanied by special clips and footage from the festival’s previous editions, including street interviews with festival-goers from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
The 30th annual İstanbul International Film Festival runs for 15 days until April 17 in five theaters across the city, offering some 230 titles under 21 different sections.
Bela Tarr, the renowned Hungarian filmmaker who is presenting “The Turin Horse,” his most recent -- and last -- directorial effort, this year in İstanbul, received one of the festival’s cinema honors at Friday’s packed opening gala.
Tarr’s black-and-white “The Turin Horse” a bleak, slow-moving feature about the lives of a farmer and his daughter in a farmhouse on an isolated plain, is offered in the fest’s World Festivals section.
The Turkish recipients of the festival’s cinema honors were filmmaker Yusuf Kurçenli, who started his career as a screenwriter and director during the 1970s; legendary screen and stage comedian duo Zeki Alasya and Metin Akpınar, best known for their popular cabaret theater, Devekuşu Kabare, during the 1970s and 1980s; and Ertunç Şenkay, a noted director of photography since the mid-1970s, who has worked with such directors as Halit Refiğ, Zeki Ökten, Sinan Çetin, Nesli Çölgeçen, Zeki Demirkubuz and Derviş Zaim.
Among the 21 sections in this year’s program are a retrospective marking the fest’s three decades, a selection of the newest films that premiered earlier this year at the prestigious Sundance and Berlin film festivals and official selections for the fest’s regular national and international feature competitions, as well as documentaries and children’s films.
A highlight of this year’s festival is a concert by the British rock band Tindersticks, who will present a collection of scores the band made for the films of French auteur Claire Denis in a live performance on April 11. The concert will kick-start the band’s international tour for “Claire Denis Film Scores 1995-2010,” the new release that includes six soundtracks the band has done for the filmmaker over the last 15 years.
A restored copy of “Üç Arkadaş” (Three Friends), Turkish director Memduh Ün’s 1958 melodrama that is billed as his masterpiece, will be offered in this year’s “Special Screening: Turkish Classics Revisited” program.
Kurçenli’s “Karartma Geceleri” (Blackout Nights), a 1990 film adaptation of Rıfat Ilgaz’s novel of the same name, and “Güle Güle” (The Raindrop), director Zeki Ökten’s 2000 drama featuring Alasya and Akpınar in its star-studded cast, are on the festival’s lineup as a tribute to this year’s cinema honor recipients.
Friday’s gala wrapped up with the screening of the festival’s opening film, “Copacabana,” directed by France’s Marc Fitoussi and starring Isabelle Huppert with her real life daughter Lolita Chammah
The festival runs until April 17 at the Beyoğlu, Atlas and Fitaş movie theaters in Beyoğlu, the Rexx theater in Kadıköy and City’s in Nişantaşı. Tickets can be purchased through www.biletix.com. For full program: http://film.iksv.org/en