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Alain Delon backs out of Istanbul festival at last minute

Alain Delon backs out of Istanbul festival at last minute
cites “ personal reasons” for cancellation

The 25th Istanbul International Film Festival (IIFF) kicked off last night with the conspicuous absence of its guest of honour, Mr Alain Delon.
Much to the surprise of the organisers, Delon cancelled his much-hyped attendance at the event on Friday morning by placing a telephone call through a third party saying that he was unable to attend. No specific reason was given.
The several thousand members of the audience at the opening ceremony on Friday evening had no idea that the French matinee idol would not be appearing. It was left to Delon’s intended travel companion, French minister of tourism Mr Leon Bertrand to announce that Delon would not be attending, “for personal reasons”.
A spokesman for the organisers said they had worked hard on Delon’s participation and that much of the publicity for the festival had centred on Delon.
“Naturally we are very disappointed but I’m sure it is also disappointing for Alain Delon, But I’m glad to say that other French stars are still expected,” said IIFF assistant director, Ms Asize Tan.
Gerard Depardieu, Jeanne Moreau and Isabelle Huppert are due to arrive at a later stage of the 16-day festival. Meanwhile, Joseph Losey’s 1976 thriller in which Delon starred alongside Jeanne Moreau, is scheduled for a special screening.
Despite Delon’s absence, the opening ceremony was a vibrant affair which saw honorary awards being made to artists who have contributed significantly to the development of Turkish cinema.
First to be honoured was Mr Erden Karal, one of the key directors during the period in which Turkish cinema had reached a political, artistic and financial impasse. In his films, Karal examined the marks left on the individual by Turkey’s political chaos.
An honorary award and an ecstatic welcome was given to Ms Serif Sezer, who has won numerous international awards and has performed in several of Turkey’s most significant films.
In Yoi, Sezer overcame the mercilessness of tradition and in submitting to pain she touched the male conscience. In A Season in Hakkari she revealed a different reality to a village teacher posted to an unfamiliar corner of the country. Clips from some of Sezer’s other films, including Despite Everything and The Turkish Bath were also shown at the ceremony.
For the convincing, natural and often comic way in which he has brought to the big screen portraits of people from all walks of life in Turkey, Mr Sener Sen was also honoured. His best-known films are: The Honest One, The Naked Citizen, The Aga Muhsin Bey, The American, and The Bandit.
Although the audience could barely hide its disappointment over Delon’s absence, several hundred stayed on to watch the opening film, Merry Christmas, by French director Christian Carion.
The film tells the story of Christmas Eve 1914 when troops on the Western Front ceased fire for a few hours and took the opportunity to rise out of the trenches, shake hands with their opponents and wish them Merry Christmas.
The film was well received by the audience, many of whom are already familiar with the horrors of trench warfare through watching Gallipoli and also through reading Louis de Bernieres latest novel, Birds Without Wings, which is currently a bestseller in Turkey.
by Jeremy Colson


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