Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Nuri Bilgi Ceylan takes the top prize at Cannes


Film director Nuri Bilge Ceylan won this year’s Palme d’Or for his latest epic Winter Sleep, beating 17 other contenders for the top prize at Cannes. The film, about a wealth landowner and his family running a hotel in the snowy Turkish mountains, is Ceylan’s fifth feature to screen at the prestigious film festival and the first time he took away the main prize. Previously at Cannes, he received the Grand Prix twice: for Uzak/Distant (2002) and again in 2011 for Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, in 2006 his movie Climates won the FIPRESCI prize, and in 2008 he received the Best Director Award with Three Monkeys.

Director Jane Campion, who led the Cannes jury, described Ceylan’s film as "masterful" and "ruthless".

The film had created a buzz at Cannes following its first screening, with critics won over from the first shot. Sydney Levine wrote in Indie Wire: “The opening scene of stunning and surrealistic landscape of Cappadocia, Anatolia immediately establishes this story as exotic and yet familiar. The actor, Haluk Bilginer, seems to be a familiar type – and in fact, his character is that of a former actor who has turned hotelier and landowner; he is attractive in an actor sort of way and seems always somehow distracted while maintaining a hawk’s eye on the household and area he appears to rule in an almost feudal style.”

“The 3-½ hours of the film pass without ever loosing the audience interest as the [story] unfolds about the relationship among the townspeople and the landowning man who in fact is a tyrant until he is forced to see his own powerlessness. The philosophic underpinnings, discussed in several intimate conversations, about the best way to resist evil, about wealth and the power it bestows and the resentment it engenders finds a quiet resolution, which arrives unexpectedly along with the end of the story.”

"My starting point is darkness," Ceylan told a press conference. "To search and understand the dark side of my soul."

The premier screening of Winter Sleep at Cannes on 17 May came just days after the Soma mining tragedy in Turkey, which claimed 301 lives. Ceylan, his cast and crew all wore black ribbons to commemorate the dead. At a press conference following the film’s premier, Ceylan expressed his dismay that no one had resigned from this Turkish government over the Soma mine disaster. He said: "In Japan, when someone dies [in an industrial accident], someone steps down. In Turkey this is not the case. I don't know why, perhaps it is a cultural difference."

After learning last week that he had won the main prize, the Turkish film director then dedicated his award to those who had lost their lives through the Gezi Uprising that started in May last year.

See the trailer for Winter Sleep here

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