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Alain Delon and Isabelle Huppert to open Istanbul Fest

Alain Delon and Isabelle Huppert among a raft of celebrities attending this year’s Istanbul International Film Festival

Alain Delon will be guest of honour at the opening gala of the Istanbul International Film Festival (IIFF) next week. Ranked as one of the most charismatic, alluring and powerful actors in cinema since he made his debut film in 1957, Delon is due to arrive in Istanbul on March 30 and will be presented with an IIFF Lifetime Achievement Award on the evening of Friday 31 March.
The festival, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, will run from April 1 to 16, during which film buffs will be treated to screenings of 219 movies from 42 countries, quite an increase from only six movies shown at the festivals first edition in 1981.
Alongside the cutting edge work that shone at top international festivals last year, the 20 sections of the programme include a number of memorable classics, selected masterpieces from virtuoso directors of the film history, several documentary films and some original examples of animation cinema.
Alain Delon is by no means the only well known French celebrity attending the Istanbul festival. Isabelle Huppert, another of France’s most gifted and highly regarded screen stars, will also be honoured with an award at the opening gala.
The staunch favourite of many a master director, Huppert will be presenting a screening of Gabrielle, a film by Patrice Chéreau in which she plays the lead.
Two further guests scheduled to be in town are the actress Diane Kruger, who won universal acclaim for her performance as Helen in the film Troy, and her husband Guillaume Canet.
The couple share the leads in the opening film of the festival, Christian Carion’s Merry Christmas, and will be introducing a further screening of the film the following day.
Christoffer Boe, the director of Reconstruction, which won the Radikal People’s Choice Award at the 23rd International Istanbul Film Festival, is also one of this year’s guests.
Boe’s latest film Allegro will be competing for the Golden Tulip award in the International Competition.
Another high profile guest is the perennially youthful gentleman anarchist of French cinema, Bertrand Blier who will be presenting the gala screening of his film How Much Do You Love Me? on April 7.
Blier will be giving a master class at the French Cultural Centre in Istanbul on 8 April. Two more of his films – Cold Cuts starring Gérard Depardieu and Separate Rooms, which earned Alain Delon a César award – have been included in the Festival programme.
James Longley will also be attending. His Iraq in Fragments scooped awards for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and for the first time this year, Best Editing in the documentary category at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Longley’s earlier documentary The Gaza Strip was screened at the 22nd IIFF (2003), where it was commended by audiences. (ends 478 words)
By Jeremy Colson

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