The Turkish Film Festival is back again in London this year, and will be running from 24th November to 8th December and has moved from a familiar three day event to a full scale two week festival with some brilliant films on show and some wonderful attendees.
Claudia Cardinale stars in the opening night gala film, Being Italian with Signora Enrica, the debut feature from Ali Ilhan - a delightful film about an elderly Italian woman who takes in a young Turkish exchange student. Cardinale is famous for her work with Fellini, Visconti and most famously in Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time in the West. Ms.Cardinale will be in attendance for the Opening Night.
Other highlights include Tayfun Pirslimoglu's Hair which won Best Turkish Film and Best Director at the 2011 Istanbul Film Festival; the debut feature from acclaimed photographer Cemil Agacikoglu, September; Do Not Forget Me Istanbul, a portrait of Istanbul as seen through the eyes of six young International directors and Home, the first feature from actor Muzatffer Ozdemir, best known for his role in Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Distant, for which he won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival.
These fresh offerings from younger voices go hand in hand with the established directors who are on show here, Ceylan himself with Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Dervis Zaim's Shadows and Faces and Sedat Yilmaz's Press.
Whilst other specialist film festivals are struggling to stay afloat, the unfortunate news a few weeks ago that there will be no Birds Eye Film Festival in 2012 came as a shock to many in the London film community, as it was a festival with a unique identity.
London has a whole host of film festivals with a specific genre or nationalistic strain (Korean, Jewish, Russian, even Kazakhstan) - the Turkish festival however, has been running for some years now and is now established as a vital platform for new emerging Turkish film-makers working both at home and abroad. It also has a prestigious award - The Golden Wings Digiturk Digital Distribution Award - which offers a £30,000 prize enabling the winning film to be released theatrically in the UK and Ireland.
Thanks to this prize a film like Bal (Honey) would never have received the great acclaim it did upon its release in April of this year.
There is also a Golden Wings People's Choice Award presented to the most popular film as selected by audiences throughout the festival.
Turkish cinema is in a period of rude health at the moment, thanks in part to the auteuristic pedigree of Ceylan whose new film Anatolia received its world premiere at Cannes in the Grand Prix selection and was up for the Palme D'Or, and also selected as Turkey's entrant for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Bal won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and the much celebrated Men on the Bridge (Asli Ozge, 2009) did some good box office and garnered critical attention when released also.
This year's festival will run at the following venues: Odeon West End, Apollo Piccadilly, Rio Dalston and Cine Lumiere.
For more information go to the festival website: http://www.ltff.org.uk/ for details of the schedule and screenings.