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Harvey Keitel Special Guest of Istanbul Film Festival

Harvey Keitel Special Guest of
24th International Istanbul Film Festival

The Istanbul International Film Festival which started out as a small "filmweek" offshoot of a general Turkish culture festival back in 1982 has now grown into an interesting middle-sized festival bridging Europe and Asia while simultaneously showcasing Turkish films before a considerable gathering of world press and cinema professionals. A jury headed by New Zealand director Jane Campion, whose film "The Piano" starring Harvey Keitel and Holly Hunter brought her to world attention in 1993, will award the Golden Tulip prize to a film selected from a slate of eleven features which either have themes relating to the arts or artists, or are literary adaptations. The films and directors in competition this year are as follows; "The House Keys", Gianni Amelio, Italy 2004/ "Lila Says", Zaid Doueri, France, 2004/ "La Femme de Gilles", Frédéric Fonteyn, France-Belgium, 2004/ "Innocence", Lucile Hadzihalilovic, France-Belgium-UK, 2004/ "Café Lumière", Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2004/"Yolda", Erden Kiral, Turkey, 2005/ "Untold Scandal", Lee Jae-Yong, South Korea, 2004/ "In My Father's Den", Brad McGann, New Zealand, 2004/ "Childstar", Don McKellar, Canada, 2004/ "When The Tide Comes In", Yolande Moreau & Gilles Porte, France-Belgium, 2004/ "Beyond The Sea", Kevin Spacey, USA, 2004/"Letter from An Unknown Woman", Xu Jing-lei, China, 2004/ "Blinded", Eleanor Yule, UK, 2004.

Special gala screenings outside of competition included Woody Allen's "Melinda and Melinda", the popular American indie, "Garden State", Agnes Jaoui's latest French masterpiece" "Comme Une Image", and Wong Kar-wai's Hong-Kong-French co-production "2046". The festival curtain raiser was "Ladies in Lavender" by first time English director Charles Dance, starring two grand old dames and icons of the British cinema, Dame Judy Dench and Dame Maggie Smith, plus young German actor Daniel Brühl (of the international hit "Good-bye Lenin") in a classic October and April love story set on the incredibly picturesque coast of Cornwall. The closer tonight will be the droll and heart-warming comedy from Argentina, "Bombon, The Dog" by Carlos Sorin, a film which premiered at San Sebastian back in September and has been a festival circuit favorite ever since.
The traditional "Tributes" section of the fest is paying homage with mini-retros to four outstanding personalities this year; Irish author, scriptwriter and director Neil Jordan, ("The Company of Wolves", "Mona Lisa", "The Crying Game" and "The Butcher Boy") -- Roman Polanski, Five films -- Alain Robbe-Grillet , French avant-garde writer (Le Nouvelle Roman) and occasional filmmaker (ciné-roman) -- and Turkish script-writer director Yavuz-Turgul, three films. Robbe-Grillet who collaborated with Alain
Resnais on the new cinema landmark "Last Year at Marienbad" (1961) also in which Robbe-Grillet appears as an actor along with Jean-Louis Trintignant and Marie-France Pisier -- and "L'immortelle" (1963) about a French newcomer to Istanbul who meets a mysterious woman there -- (i.e., here!)
Robbe-Grillet's fascination with Turkey is thus reciprocated. Congenial Irishman Neil Jordan, a man of many talents, is also on hand here in Istanbul to give a so-called "master class" on his approach to filmmaking at the handsome campus of Bosphorus University, on the site the former elite Jesuit college once known as Roberts University. The strong literary bias here is evident from the fact that two of the above are also writers.

Among many other special sections on view here is a nine film survey of the new Korean cinema since the year 2000 including the 99th film by Korean master filmmaker Im Kwon-Tek. There has been a special relationship between Korea and Turkey going all the way back to the Korean War (1950-53) during which Turkish units of the United Nations Alliance distinguished themselves for their bravery and struck fear into the hearts of the North Korean invaders with their fierce bayonet charges. On top of this, Korean president Roh Myoo-Hyun, arrived in town yesterday for special talks with Turkish leaders centering on technology exchanges -- the first visit ever by a Korean head of state to Turkey. Arirang TV, the Korean satellite station which goes world-wide in English, spearheaded by Anchor-lady Ahn Chak-Hee, who speaks flawless English and looks like a movie star herself, is covering the president's visit. Moreover, having heard of Mr. Keitel's fortuitously simultaneous presence here in the Turkish metropolis, the gorgeous Ms. Ahn is hoping to tape an interview with the American actor who, she says, is extremely popular and has a devoted following in the Republic of Korea! That chance will possibly come tonight at the closing reception here in the Marmara Hotel grand ballroom which, with perfect Turkish appreciation of the fine points of night life, will begin at midnight and last until...

by Alex Deleon


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