Magazine article Variety

Turkish Fest Talks Up Global Village

Magazine article Variety

Turkish Fest Talks Up Global Village

Article excerpt

The Antalya Film Festival, which launched five decades ago to boost production of quality Turkish pics by showcasing them alongside global standouts, albeit separately, is undergoing a revamp and raising its international profile in an effort to counter the country's current drift toward isolationism.

For its 54th edition Turkey's most prominent film event has hired British producer and film industry expert Mike Downey as artistic director. His first move has been to merge the fest's international and national competitions with the intention of forging greater cinematic ties with the rest of the world while also raising the overall bar.

"We are driven by three key buzzwords: global, quality and selectivity," says Downey, who has long been active in the Balkans.

Accordingly, Antalya this year will open with the world premiere of Turkish-Bosnian co-production "Never Leave Me," based on a true story about Syrian orphans living in a Turkish refugee camp, directed by Bosnian writer-helmer Aida Begic ("Children of Sarajevo").

It comes as no surprise that with Turkey now hosting more than three million refugees, mostly from Syria, the global refugee crisis features in four films in the festival's selection.

Also world-premiering is Turkish director Andac Haznedaroglu's "The Guest," starring Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak as a Syrian woman fleeing from war-torn Aleppo with two orphans. Pic marks the first Turkish-Jordanian co-production.

They will compete for prizes alongside Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's global refugee doc "Human Flow" and Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismaki's tragicomedy "The Other Side of Hope" in which a Syrian refugee, whose request for asylum in Finland is rejected, strikes an unlikely friendship with a cranky poker-playing Helsinki restaurateur.

"I think it's very important for the festival to tune in to the global zeitgeist, especially given Turkey's unique position between East and West ... and the role Turkey is playing in the crisis," Downey says.

Another aspect Antalya's new artistic director is adamant about is ensuring that titles in his "highly curated" lineup be accompanied by "key creators" so that "the audience can meet the artists close up and personal," he says.

Oscar-winning French director Michel Hazanavicius is among the talent expected to make the trek for the Turkish premiere of his Jean-Luc Godard biopic "Redoubtable," as are Mexico's Michel Franco for his teen pregnancy drama "April's Daughter"; U. …

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