Filmmaker in Focus: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
October 29–November 5, 2014
Organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, and Dave Kehr, Adjunct Curator, Department of Film.
Prints courtesy of Adopt Films, Cinema Guild, and Zeitgeist Films.
Related Film Screenings
Kis uykusu (Winter Sleep)
2014. Turkey. Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Screenplay by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Erbru Ceylan. With Haluk Bilginer, Demet Akbag, Malisa Sözen. Winner of the Palme d’Or of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Ceylan’s most recent film blends elements of Ibsen, Dostoyevsky, and Chekhov into a three-part symphony in dialogue. Aydin (Bilginer) imagines himself the local potentate in the district of Anatolia that surrounds his mountaintop hotel. A former actor who now bloviates in the local newspaper, Aydin’s supreme self-confidence blinds him to the resentment of those he takes to be his natural subjects—not just the villagers, but his wife and sister, who live with him in his mountain redoubt. Focusing on the seemingly unbridgeable divisions between classes and generations, Ceylan develops his themes of guilt, responsibility, faith, and spirituality into a family drama with deep implications. In Turkish; English subtitles. 196 min.
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia)
2011. Turkey/Bosnia and Herzegovina. Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Screenplay by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Erbru Ceylan, Ercan Kesal. With Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel. Ceylan captures the dark night of the soul, here encapsulated as a search through the countryside surrounding a small Anatolian village for a missing body. The killer has confessed, but was too drunk to remember where the murder took place; as the quest continues through the night, the local doctor and coroner (Uzuner), the police commissioner (Erdogan), and the lead prosecutor (Birsel) find their conversation circling back to a single significant topic: the notion that the sins of the parents are paid for by their children. Ceylan’s expressive use of landscape here achieves new heights, as he meticulously documents the haunting atmosphere that envelops the isolated town and its tortured inhabitants. In Turkish; English subtitles. 157 min.
2006. Turkey/France. Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Screenplay by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. With Mehmet Eryilmaz. A master of widescreen composition, Ceylan smoothly conjugates vast, craggy landscapes and all-too-intimate domestic interiors in this study of a toxic but stubbornly persistent relationship. Ceylan and his wife, Ebru Ceylan, offer unsparing portrayals of the central couple, a desiccated, massively self-involved Istanbul academic and his possessively romantic partner, an art director for a turgid television series. Ceylan employs extended silences and achingly empty spaces to evoke the contradictory feelings that bind the pair in a permanent dance of rupture and reunion. In Turkish; English subtitles. 101 min.
Üç maymun (Three Monkeys)
2008. Turkey/France/Italy. Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Screenplay by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Erbru Ceylan, Ercan Kesal. With Yavuz Bingol, Hatice Aslan, Ahmet Rifat Sungar. The usually unruffled surface of Ceylan’s films is here disturbed by some spectacularly melodramatic plot elements borrowed from the Turkish popular cinema. A conniving politician (co-screenwriter Kesal) pays his salt-of-the-earth driver (Bingol) to take the rap for a hit-and-run accident, then takes advantage of the chauffeur’s absence to conduct an affair with his wife (Aslan). Brooding on the sidelines is the couple’s unemployed, alienated teenage son (Sungar). In Turkish; English subtitles. 109 min.
2002. Turkey. Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Screenplay by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Cemil Kavukçu. With Muzaffer Ozdemir, Mehmet Emin Toprak. Ceylan’s cinema of loneliness achieved international recognition with this, his third feature, which won the Grand Jury Prize and an acting award for its two leading performers at the Cannes Film Festival. Mahmut (Ozdemir) is a cosmopolitan photographer who lives in a permanent funk in fashionable Istanbul; when an awkward country cousin, Yusuf (Toprak), turns up on his doorstep, seeking a place to crash while he conducts a futile search for employment, Mahmut is both grateful for the companionship and resentful of the intrusion. The men may share the space of Ceylan’s meticulously composed frames, but their lives move inexorably in different directions, toward different solitudes. In Turkish; English subtitles. 110 min.
Kasaba (The Small Town)
1997. Turkey. Screenplay by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Emin Ceylan. With Chiat Bütün, Emin Ceylan, Fatma Ceylan, Havva Saglam. Drawn from a story by Ceylan’s sister, Emine, and based on events from the director’s childhood, Kasaba captures four seasons in a Turkish village. Shot by Ceylan in a soft light, the film drifts through a series of sketches amplified by lyrical touches, climaxing in an extended sequence that finds three generations (the grandparents are played by Ceylan’s own mother and father) gathered around a fire on a summer night, eating roast corn and exchanging observations on life and change. Ceylan’s feature debut, Kasaba reveals his debt to Anton Chekhov in its rueful, sympathetic portrait of provincial life. 82 min.
1995. Turkey. Ceylan’s ambitious first short film, also featuring his parents. 20 min.
Mayis sikintisi (Clouds of May)
1999. Turkey. Screenplay by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. With Emin Ceylan, Mazaffer Özdemir, Fatma Ceylan, Sadik Incesu. Ceylan’s second film—in some ways a “making of” his first—tells the story of a filmmaker (Mazaffer Özdemir) who returns to the village of his childhood to scout locations for a new project. But a new element emerges with the figure of Sadik (Sadik Incesu), an aimless young man who sees the filmmaker as his ticket to escape the provinces for the bright lights of Istanbul. Immersed in the sounds and textures of its rural environment and filmed with an unforced attentiveness, Clouds of May establishes the tension between documentary and drama that drives much of Ceylan’s later work. 130 min.