With over 200 films screened in a series of thematic sections including fiction and documentary, national premières or retrospectives, feel-good or politically engaged films from all over the world and for all kinds of audiences, the Istanbul Film Festival seems to have something to offer everyone. It's almost as if the famous 'Turkish hospitality' — which is at the heart of the festival's atmosphere — had to extend to cinema as well; the event directed by Azize Tan is also welcoming and encompassing on the screen.
Professionals can have productive discussions and encounters at the Meetings on the Bridge development workshops; children can discover cinema (this year featuring a Dutch program) and everyone can attend the Master Classes and Panels with talents such as Terence Davies or Corneliu Porumboiu.
For foreign audiences, one of the main interests is of course the possibility of seeing recent Turkish films: this year about 40 were screened in total, 12 of which were selected for the National Golden Tulip competition. The official jury's main prize (endowed with 150,000 €) matched the FIPRESCI jury's choice: Emin Alper's Beyond the Hill (Tepenin Ardi), which had already impressed at the Berlinale Forum with its amazing talent to play with genres and build up a very abstract tension to make a powerful comment on power and the fear of the other.
The International Competition gathered films already screened in major festivals and that had some relation to other forms of art in their subject or were literary adaptations. The official jury, chaired by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, gave the Golden Tulip to Julia Loktev's The Loneliest Planet, whereas the winner of the FIPRESCI Prize was Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights, which succeeded in transforming psychologically painful states of mind into a convincing and surprising visual aesthetic and also creating, through its original treatment of controversial issues, a postmodern adaptation of a 19th Century novel. (Pamela Biénzobas)
Istanbul Film Festival: www.film.iksv.org