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Interview with the Croisette legend in Cannes – The Hollywood Reporter


Nuri Bilge Ceylan likes to take his time. The Turkish director is one of the greatest practitioners of slow cinema living. The filmmaking ethos — pioneered by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky and the likes of Theo Angelopoulos, Albert Serra, Bella Tarr, Kelly Richardt and Love Diaz — avoids the quick editing and relentless plots that drive forward the nonstop Hollywood blockbusters (Looking at You, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny) for a more speculative, metaphysical approach.

The characters in Ceylan’s movie don’t do much. There’s little to no traditional action or suspense, and the storylines are fairly basic. in 2002 far, a rural factory worker visiting his cousin in Istanbul. Homicide police discover the body of a murder victim and take a long drive into town for an autopsy in 2011 Once upon a time in Anatolia. An old actor, his wife and sister sit in a hotel talking at the 2014 Palme d’Or award from Ceylan. Hibernation.

The filmmaker’s visual aesthetic—essentially wide shots, with long shots and small camera movement (Japanese master Yasujirō Ozu is a huge influence)—forces viewers to slow down and focus on subtle movements or inflections of phrase that reveal character and setting details. His films don’t delve, they dig deep, exploring the big questions—the nature of existence, the meaning of life—by putting the audience in a contemplative state of mind, where they stop to think about where the story is going and ponder over what the world is actually like.

Gillan says in an interview with Hollywood Reporter Before the premiere of his new movie in Cannes About dry herbs (which runs a quick 3 hours 17 minutes). “My Cinema hopes to be a kind of journey that tries to investigate these differences.”

Rather than attempting to excite or distract the audience, Gillan often embraces boredom as his own
Technical strategy.

“The films that initially bore me became the most important films of my life,” he says. “The biggest decisions in our lives generally come after the biggest cases of boredom. Boredom has the ability to put people in the right mental state to be able to feel the harshest realities. Such as [German-Jewish philosopher] Walter Benjamin said, “If sleep is the pinnacle of physical relaxation, then boredom is the pinnacle of mental relaxation. Boredom is the bird of dreams that hatches the egg of experience.

In a society that feels like it’s speeding its own demise—with social media and digital technology decimating attention spans and fostering a culture of instant gratification and dopamine-rapid hits—Ceylan’s films can feel like time really is up, the cinematic equivalent of slow food.

The 64-year-old filmmaker is among the most acclaimed filmmakers to have walked the Cannes red carpet. About dry herbs It marks his seventh time in the Cannes competition, eight if you include his first short film in 1993, cocoon – and rarely comes home empty-handed. far He won the Grand Prize for Best Actor for his starring role, Muzaffer Özdemir and Mehmet Emin Toprak; Climate collection (2006) won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize; 2008 Three monkeys won Best Director in Cannes; Once upon a time in Anatolia It earned him his second Grand Prix; And Hibernation Palme d’Or.


But, appropriately enough, Gillan had his sweet time getting here.

He was in his mid-30s before he picked up a film camera, and 36 when he made his first short film.

“I spent at least 10 years without doing anything after university, thinking about what I should do to make a living,” Gillan told an audience at BFI Southbank in London in 2009. “When you’re young, you’re braver, and it’s better for making mistakes.”

Born in Istanbul in 1959, Ceylan studied chemical and electrical engineering but never practiced this profession. “When I graduated as an engineer, I realized this wasn’t for me,” he says. “I started traveling
the world to understand what I really want. After spending some time in the West and hiking in the Himalayas in the East, I returned to Turkey and went through compulsory military service. This was the place that made me decide to go to the movies. I was very lonely at that time and I read a lot of books. Mostly from Russian literature. This made me try to mix literature with artistic imagery. Actually, when I first read [Fyodor Dostoevsky’s] Crime and punishment At the age of 19, I felt like my life would never be the same again.”

Gillan said he had a “Russian soul”, and his contemplative, often melancholic narrative style owed much to Russian literary masters, particularly Anton Chekhov and Dostoevsky. Hibernation It is a quote from Chekhov’s short story the wife.

But initially, in Gillan’s films, the literary inspirations were not translated into dialogue scripts.

“I didn’t feel confident, at first, writing the dialogue scenes,” he says. On the first advantage [1997’s The Small Town]The dialogue scenes were a disaster. When I first saw it with the audience at the Berlin Film Festival, I just wanted to disappear. After that, my entire professional life became a kind of struggle to solve the problem of dialogue. Your weak sides shape your destiny in some way. Your cinema, your style and even your personality as a human being. I’ve probably spent my entire life desperately working hard on my shortcomings.”

It seems to have worked.

Ceylan’s latest movies – Hibernation And About dry herbs In particular – they are almost excessively chatty, with long arguments and philosophical discourses, even if Gillan tends to use language not to discuss the matter at hand and to leave meaning in the moments between words.

“Dialogue, for me, only works if they talk about nonsense, anything that has nothing to do with the movie,” he said on the BFI stage. “I try to tell the meaning of the film without dialogue — with posture, gestures, etc. … During filming, I end up having dialogue here, and finally, there is no dialogue.”

Ceylan took his second film, May clouds, a quiet comedy story of a film director who returns to his hometown and struggles to get his film made, to Berlin in 1999, this time in competition. but this
The international breakthrough will come after three years in Cannes when far Presented for the first time in competition. The film contains one of the most iconic scenes in the director’s canon. Factory worker Yusuf arrives in Istanbul from the countryside to live with his older relative Mahmut Özdemir, a once promising photographer who is now forced into a boring commercial hacking job.

On one of their first nights together, Mahmoud, perhaps trying to hook up with his cousin, or perhaps trying to show off his artistic credentials, puts a VHS copy of Andrei Tarkovsky stalker. Joseph soon becomes bored and falls asleep. Soon after, Mahmoud switched the tapes and started watching porn. When Yusuf returns to the front room, Mahmud rushes to turn off the dirt and return to Tarkovsky. All the elements that would define Ceylan’s style—the juxtaposition between Turkey’s rural and urban societies, the focus on family relationships, subtle character development and subtle use of humour, even references to slow cinema pioneer Tarkovsky—are all there, in one unbroken shot.

when far It was shown in Cannes, and was hailed as the arrival of a major new voice in cinema. But for Ceylan, the moment was bittersweet. Toprak, Ceylan’s real-life cousin, was played by Yusuf and, like his character, a factory worker from rural Anatolia. He used the money he earned from the movie to buy a used car and then farHe was driving home to the world premiere of a film at the Ankara Film Festival when he died in a crash. He was honored as Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival posthumously. Gillan was hardly responsible for his death, but it overshadowed his success. “I feel very bad and very guilty,” said the director in 2004.

Guilt and personal pain are also the focus of Ceylan’s second 2006 Cannes film Climate collection, an icy dissection of the disintegrating relationship between a middle-aged couple, Isa and Bahar, played by Ceylan himself and his real-life wife (and regular co-writer), Ebru Ceylan. In his recent films, the director has expanded the range of his stories, sometimes slipping, subtly, of course, into a more genre field. Three monkeys from 2008 is a psychological drama with a neo-noir plot involving a clever politician who, after accidentally striking and killing a pedestrian, tries to convince his driver to make amends for the crime. The arrangement tears apart the driver’s family, but when the driver’s son retaliates and kills the politician, the driver tries to find another salaryman to take
Responsibility and the cycle of guilt continues.

Once upon a time in Anatolia It is virtual police action. Homicide investigators and a medical examiner, aided by two prisoners, search for the body of a murder victim in rural Anatolia. They find the dead man, file the report, and perform an autopsy. Not much happens, but over the course of the slow-motion drama, the audience’s sympathy for that of the confessed killer changes more and more and the detectives seem increasingly morally corrupt.

There are no crimes – or at least nothing illegal – in HibernationBut the film, about a former actor and would-be intellectual who now runs a hotel in Anatolia, is an incisive study in the abuse of power. It also examines how Turkey’s so-called elite have abdicated their moral responsibility to their countrymen. Aydin (Haluk Bilgener) considers himself an artist and philanthropist, when in reality he’s a exploitative landlord who gets others to do his dirty work. A small act of violence will shatter the facade, and his life will crumble to the ground.

presentation Hibernation With the 2014 Palme d’Or Award, Cannes jury president Jane Campion called the film “sincere,” “uncompromising,” and “charming.” As with all of his films since then Climate collectionHis wife co-wrote the screenplay. Tears in my wife’s eyes when [Palme d’Or] Announcing my favorite moment from Cannes, says Gillan.

In his participation in the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Wild pear treeCeylan uses the thorny, unattractive, but robust and ubiquitous plant of the mountains of Turkey as a symbol for his main character: an unpublished writer undergoing a political and spiritual crisis, who, unable to find work in the city, returns to his family home and the village in which he grew up. which he still despises. “If I were a dictator, I would drop an atomic bomb on this place,” he growls.

There is some implicit social criticism here, but Gilan discourages reading his films as a direct commentary on the political conditions in his country.

He said, “Although my films are rooted in some of the political and social realities of Turkey to some extent, I hope they try instead to explore themes of existentialism, alienation, and the human condition to create a sense of introspection and philosophical inquiry.”

It was - in competition - KURU OTLAR USTUNE

About dry herbs

Cannes Film Festival

In other words, pure cinema.

It is what was promised About dry herbs, the filmmaker’s latest Palme d’Or contender. The story — being a Ceylan film, one needs to use the word loosely — follows a young art teacher who is sent to serve his compulsory social service in a remote village.

“It is loosely based on the notes and diaries of our assistant screenwriter, Akin Aksu, which he wrote during his compulsory social service in eastern Turkey,” says Ceylan. “At first, it didn’t interest me
A lot, but there have been some indications of the amazing qualities of human nature here and there
Text. With the passage of time I realized that I was unable to somehow forget this text, and began to think about it
We can expand and enrich those details through the screenwriting process. ”

Boredom initially gave way to infatuation, resulting in a film that is part love triangle, part morality lesson, and part critique of the Turkish education system. It’s unlikely to please everyone — Ceylan’s films rarely do — but if history is any guide, it could find plaudits from the Cannes jury and help popularize the slow, pure church of Ceylan cinema.

“Cannes is still the strongest citadel in the art of cinema,” Gillan says. My movies start here
Travel around the world. [Cannes] My films have helped to seep into souls and find a place in some of them

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.