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Celebrities pouring in to Istanbul to celebrate 25th edition of film festival

Catherine Deneuve is the latest in a line of well-known names descending on Istanbul this week to show their support for the 25th edition of the İstanbul International Film Festival.
Deneuve is expected to arrive on Friday and will be received as guest of honour at the awards ceremony of the festival which will see the Golden Tulip going to the best international film and cash prizes worth more than US$100,000 going to winners in the Turkish National Competition.
Also expected on the same day is another celebrity from French cinema, Gerard Depardieu, who is flying in on a private aircraft courtesy of an Istanbul newspaper magnate.
Both Deneuve and Depardieu will receive the ‘Cinema Honorary Award’ of the Festival at the Award Ceremony which will be broadcast live on CNNTURK on Friday evening.
Deneuve left indelible impressions on the memories of Turkish audiences with her magnificent performances in Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, Luis Buñuel's Belle de Jour and Truffaut’s Le Dernier Métro / The Last Metro.
Gérard Depardieu, ‘France’s gift to world cinema’, has acted in more than 150 films and has received numerous honours, from César and BAFTA awards to awards in Venice and Cannes. Having frequently worked with renowned French directors such as Marguerite Duras, Francis Weber, Alain Resnais, Maurice Pialat and Claude Berri, Depardieu is also the holder of the “Légion d'Honneur” and the “Ordre National du Mérite”, France´s most prestigious decorations.
Two films with Gérard Depardieu in the leading role are in the festival program: Cold Cuts and How Much Do You Love Me?
Other stars who have already attended the 16-day festival include the legendary Jeanne Moreau who charmed a packed house for a special screening of Le Temps Qui Reste when she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts.
One star who sadly did not make the trip to Istanbul was Alain Delon who had been billed to open the festival. Festival organisers were phoned the morning of the opening day to be told that Delon was unable to make it due to personal reasons.
Festival Director, Miss Hulya Ucansu, told FilmFestivals.Com today (Wednesday 12th Aprıl) that despite being very disappointed that Delon had not been able to make it, they wished him well. “We understand from reports in the French press that he is suffering from depression. We know that this is a serious problem and we hope for a happy outcome.”
Asked how festival organisers go about inviting celebrities, Ms Ucansu said that after developing an outline for the programme of a festival and deciding on film titles they then make a shortlist of celebrities.
“This is without a doubt the most difficult part of the job. The celebrities work very hard and are frequently not available when we most want them. For example Catherine Deneuve was not available at the beginning of the festival but, happıly, was able to join us later on. We were fortunate in this instance,” said Ms Ucansu.
She added that celebrities are extremely important from the point of view of building an image for a festival, and for this reason festivals will go to extraordinary lengths to meet special conditions set by the big stars.
“For example Mr Depardieu wanted a private plane. That was one of his conditions for attending. We were fortunate to have a local businessman who is well-disposed towards the festival, but with a limited budget we sometimes find it difficult to meet all the conditions,” said Ms Ucansu.
Directors can sometimes be difficult to please but are usually easier to please, she added.
Numerous directors have been through the festival this year. Among the most famous are Bernard Blier who is considered to be one of the most radical directors of French cinema.
He gave a master class to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience. Another renowned figure, Mr Vittorio de Seta also attended the festival and also gave a very well attended masterclass.
by Jeremy Colson

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