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Eskişehir -- Diary of a High-rise Zombie, other films, and a real Master Class

Eskişehir.  "Zeynep's Eight Days" ("Eight Day Daze" would be more to the point) is a film which won a best actress award at Ankara for the yoemanlike work of actress Fadik Atasoy in March. This debut feature by Cemal Şan is a long sterile meditation on the alienation of lonely livıng in sterile modern high rise apartments in a faceless big city in which the main actress who is in nearly every scene is called upon to act like a zombie or cyborg throughout.  The film follows heroine Zeynep through her monotonous routine day after day for eight days during which her zombie-like agenda is altered drastically by a one night stand with a disgusting crumbum she meets at a nightclub, and the film goes on in this fashion for what seems like eight years until it begins to evoke giggles and heehaws, clearly unintended.  While this might be regarded as a noble experiment in post-modern sociology it just falls flat on its face because of heavy-handed direction and conceptual vacuity, and is noteworthy only for the heroic presence of actress Atasoy who should have been given a medal for allowing herself to be subjected to such torture for such an endless ninety minutes.   There are times in the film when her unabated onscreen suffering and a certain facial resemblance is vaguely reminiscent of Falconetti in Dreyer's "Trial of Joan of Arc", but that is the only similarity and it is stretching a point from the sublime to the ridıculous even to mention these two films in the same breath. Zeynep is one of the most boring films I have ever forced myself to sit through (only because İ like the actress personally) and the only reward was the intelligent Q and A session with the alert inquisitive students of Anadolu University which followed the screening. These kids asked better questions than much of the crass gossippy trivia which passes for professional cross-examination at Cannes or Berlin press conferences.
 
Zeynep's daze was followed up by a very engaging small Turkish fılm entitled "Tatil Kitabi" (Holiday Book) by another debut feature director, Seyfi Teoman, who is just 31 and learned his trade at the famous Polish film school in Lodz. The film takes opens and closes with the beginnİng and end of the summer school vacation in a provincial elementary school and follows the adventures and misadventures of a perhaps ten year old schoolboy, Ali, and his extended family in a small town somewhere near the south coast of Turkey during this vacation period.  At the start the kids are given a kind of illustrated encyclopedia to study over the summer, whence the name of the film, but this is merely incidental.  All kinds of little complications happen within this family over the course of the summer but, as in a Japanese Ozu film, what is important here is not the plot but the characters in the story and their relationships with one another.  I was very pleased with this fılm and will most definitely be looking forward to more work from this young director. "Holiday Book" was awarded the FIPRESCI prize at the 2008 Istanbul IFF and was also named Best Film by the Turkish ministry of Culture and Tourism.
 

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Deleon Alex
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THE FESTIVALS BLOG by Alex Deleon. Watch for festival coverage from the circuit.

Ambiance and reviews from the hot spots. Welcoming your comments too.


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