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The largest, most established and most influential film event in Turkey, the Istanbul Film Festival has over the past 30 years, presented Istanbul audiences with a total of more than 3,250 films, showcasing the cinema of 103 countries, and attracting a total audience number of 3,150,000. With an audience of 150,000 in 2011, it is also considered the biggest Turkish film festival. Established in 1982 as a film week, and accredited by FIAPF in 1989, the Festival aims at encouraging the development of cinema in Turkey and promoting films of quality in the Turkish market. As such, the Festival incorporates the Meetings on the Bridge platform, and within the frame of this programme, a competitive Feature Film Project Development Workshop that was initiated in 2008, and a Work-in-Progress sidebar in order to support the Turkish film industry and Turkish film professionals. In 2015, the MoB began to accept submissions from neighbouring countries.
The Istanbul Film Festival features an International Competition (limited to films on arts and the artist or literary adaptations) with a monetary award of a total of €25,000 as its grand prize the Golden Tulip. Showcasing Turkish cinema as the most active promotional, international platform in Turkey, the Festival features a National Competition, A National Documentary Competition, and a Human Rights in Cinema competition endorsed by the Council of Europe. The festival each year screens around 200 feature films, and takes place in April.
Interview with Ann Hui at Istanbul Film Festival
Old age by the Oscar nominated film from Hong Kong…
A Simple Life, Oscar-nominated film from Hong Kong which achieved great box office success in the Fareast, is essentially a family love film. Based on the real experience of the producer Roger Lee, the film tells the relationship between a film producer, Roger, and the servant of his family of 60 years. The film focuses on themes of old age, death, and love after the servant suffers a stroke and wants to move to a resting home. A Simple Life tells its story patiently during two hours beyond the time and communication perception of the West. We talked about the great interest in her films in her country with Ann Hui, who met the festival audience at two screenings.
- A Simple Life is based on your producer’s real life. But the film has a lot of themes that occurred in your past. So it has to do something with you as well and I wonder about those common themes in your cinema.
Yes, I dealt with a lot of family relationships before. So this is also a family relationship story. But it is with a servant, who is part of the family. She does not have any kind of blood bonds. Another theme I was very interested in this film is discussion of old age and experience. I am getting older and I learned to accept getting older.
- The servant is someone who cooked for them for years. You used “eating” scenes quite a lot in order to underline this. But does it have any special reason that you add food to every scene, other than clarifying characters’ relation to one another?
Food is quite a universal concept. In Latin American literature, there are lots of things about food as well. Cooking has also metaphysical references. Cooking is sometimes a sign for love. Considering Hong Kong, the situation is different. In our culture, expression of feelings within the family is very restrained. Parents don’t usually hug their children. We don’t have expressions like honey, dear, or darling. We just call our parents as “Father” and “Mother”. Mothers usually express their love to children by cooking for them and fathers’ expression is forcing them to eat. This is just what happens in life. In this film, the feelings of characters towards each other are expressed very much through cooking.
- Your film has been released in cinemas in Hong Kong. How is it going with the box office?
It was released on March 19, it is in its third week. The box office is exceptionally good. So far, it has been popular in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan. It’s the highest box office record of my career so far. The lead Andy Lau is the key to that success. He has lots of fans in China and Hong Kong. People will go and watch his movies when they see his name.
- Are there any Turkish directors you’ve been following?
Nuri Bilge Ceylan. A friend of mine is a big fan of him. He gave me all of his films on DVD. And I watched all of them. But I haven’t seen Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. I liked his cinema. I think they are all exceptional. I can say that they are very high art films. The ordinary audience may find them challenging. I also heard about Reha Erdem, but I haven’t watched any of his films. If you can write down names of his films, I would like to buy them.
- How do you define your own films in terms of art? You are quite a renowned director in your country.
If we consider the average audience and high art, I think my films are somewhere in the middle. Being renowned varies according to the situation. After a successful attempt, you become known in the public because you take place on television and newspapers a lot. Later on, this effect clears away. As A Simple Life is publicised a lot, I suddenly drew much attention. This was a little bit tiring but this is actually a part of my job.
The last screening of A Simple Life will be on Sunday, April 8 at 19.00 at Rexx Sineması.
Interview: Ceyda Aşar
The Bulletin Board
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About Istanbul Film Festival
The most comprehensive and oldest international film festival in Turkey. Established in 1982, it screens more than 200 films of various genres, and has an extensive Turkish features showcase. The Golden Tulip Grand Prize of the Festival has a monetary award attached.
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