The southern Turkish province of Adana’s long-running Altın Koza (Golden Boll) International Film Festival is preparing to open its 2011 edition next month with a lineup that seems to be one of the event’s strongest in recent years.
Despite its 42-year history, beginning with the first Altın Koza festival in 1969, this year’s will be only the 18th edition of Altın Koza. The festival has faced numerous interruptions throughout its history, ranging from earthquakes to political issues, such as the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara aid ship last year.
Altın Koza, which had been running uninterruptedly since 2005, was rescheduled last year after the Mavi Marmara attack from its original date in June. But last year’s program, which was hastily put together in about a month after confusion throughout the summer as to whether the festival would continue or be entirely canceled, was not “juicy” enough to satisfy film aficionados.
Deciding to keep the September date, the Greater Adana Municipality, the organizers of the Altın Koza fest have prepared an attractive program this year – including films from eagerly anticipated competition titles to Turkish premieres. The program, announced on Tuesday in a news conference in İstanbul, offers such highlights as the Turkish premiere of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix-winning “Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da” (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), and Woody Allen’s latest romantic comedy “Midnight in Paris,” which was the opening film at Cannes this year.
Adana Deputy Mayor Zihni Aldırmaz told Tuesday’s press conference that the festival would bring to the city a sampling of the most distinguished works of recent Turkish and world cinema. Recognizing Ceylan for his Grand Prix win at this year’s Cannes, Aldırmaz said they were delighted to be hosting the Turkish premiere of “Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da.”
The festival, running this year from Sept. 17-25, boasts three competitive sections: the national feature film competition, the international short film competition for films from Mediterranean countries, and the national competition for student films. The total cash prize amount to be handed out in the festival’s three competitions is TL 936,000. The winner of the best film award in the national feature competition will receive a cash prize of TL 350,000.
The national feature competition, whose jury will be chaired this year by director Derviş Zaim, whose films include “Tabutta Röveşata” (“Somersault in a Coffin”), “Nokta” (“The Dot”) and “Gölgeler ve Suretler” (“Shadows and Faces”), will include 14 recent titles by Turkish directors. One of the most eagerly anticipated entrants is Özcan Alper’s sophomore directorial effort “Gelecek Uzun Sürer” (“The Future Is a Long While”). Alper’s first feature “Sonbahar” (“Autumn”) also made its debut at the Altın Koza festival four years ago, from where it went on to become an international award-winner. Other highlights of the national competition include Onur Ünlü’s newest effort “Celal Tan ve Ailesinin Aşırı Acıklı Hikâyesi” (“The Extremely Depressing Story of Celal Tan and His Family”), Cemil Ağacıkoğlu’s “Eylül” (“September”), which is having its world premiere this week at the Montreal World Film Festival, Tolga Örnek’s “Kaybedenler Kulübü” (“Losers’ Club”), and Ali Özgentürk’s “Beni Sev” (“Love Me”).
Other regular sections of the festival, including the world cinema selection and documentaries will also take place as usual. Special sections devoted to films by veteran screen actors Kadir İnanır and Nebahat Çehre and director/producer Özgentürk, who will be honored with the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Awards, will also be offered.
Another highlight will be a special section titled “I’m Asian, I’m African,” devoted to films from Asian and African countries. The program is timely, as the world currently rushes to aid the drought-stricken Somalia in its fight against famine.
The festival will also see the inauguration of the Adana Cinema Museum, a tribute to the countless movie stars who are natives of the city, including the legendary actor/filmmaker Yılmaz Güney.