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Young Turkish cinema at 17th Filmfest Hamburg

From 24th September to 3rd October 2009 the 17th Filmfest Hamburg will be presenting film enthusiasts and professionals with young Turkish cinema. The eight author-directors come from different Turkish cities and regions, bringing with them intense and explosive tales of Turkish and Kurdish life. Festival Director Albert Wiederspiel is impressed "by the cinematic poetry of these stories as well as by the filmmakers' courage. The imagery used in all of these films relies on serene tranquillity, making use of long takes and intense symbolism. They represent the variety and the high quality of young Turkish cinema."

This section of the festival presents the German premiere of five feature films and one documentary. It includes the feature film debut "Before My Eyes" ("Min Dit", 2009) by director, scriptwriter and producer Miraz Bezar, born in 1971 in Ankara, of Kurdish descent, now living in Berlin. The intense, though light-handedly directed drama tells of a conflict in the 1990s, seen from the perspective of a young sibling couple, fighting for survival in a South-Anatolian village following the brutal murder of their parents. Fatih Akin and Klaus Maeck are co-producers of Bezar Film.

Architect, journalist and director Yesmin Usaoglu is another courageous representative of Kurdish cinema. Born in 1960 in the East-Turkish province of Kars, on the border to Armenia, she grew up by the Black Sea and studied in Istanbul. After "Waiting for the Clouds" (2004) and "Journey to the Sun" (1999), Usaoglu now presents the family drama "Pandora's Box" ("Pandoranin kutusu", 2008), which won an award in San Sebastián. In it, 90-year old French actress Tsilla Chelton plays an old woman afflicted by Alzheimer's, whose grown-up grandchildren from Istanbul are looking for her in her home village by the Black Sea - a direct, sensitive, tragicomic and universal tale of three generations.

In "10 to 11" ("11'e 10 kala", 2009), Pelin Esmer (*1972) lets two men of different ages, habits and living conditions meet in an apartment house. Threatened by an earthquake, they stumble into oppositional, new living environments. Following her internationally awarded documentary films "The Collector" (2002) and "The Play" (2005), the Istanbul-born sociologist and author-director wrote her first feature film in Paris - on invitation by the Cannes Film Festival.

The young directing couple Mehmet Bahadir Er (*1982) and Maryna Gorbach (*1981) present their film noir feature film debut "Black Dogs Barking" ("Kara köpekler havlarken", 2008). This dynamical, brilliantly dramatized thriller, in which two anti-heroes from the outskirts of Istanbul come into life-threatening conflict with the local mafia on their quest for happiness, employment and acceptance, celebrated its world premiere at the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival. Born in Kocaeli, Mehmet Bahadir Er is a student at the "Department of Cinema and TV" at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, and a member of the "Karakirmizi" film group. Ukrainian-born Maryna Gorbach studied at the Kiev National University of Theatre, Cinema and Television until 2006 and won several festival awards with her short film "The Jar" (2004).

"Milk" ("Süt", 2008) by Semih Kaplanoglu (*1963) is a sensitive snap-shot of Turkey in the process of convergence to Europe, depicted by example of a mother-son conflict. Izmir-born Kaplanoglu already won several awards with his feature film directing debut "Away From Home" (2001). Alongside the film "Egg" and the project-in-planning "Honey", "Milk" is part of Kaplanoglu's "Yusuf's Trilogy", named after the three films' protagonist Yusuf. "Milk" was nominated for the Golden Lion in 2008 and received the international film critics FIPRESCI Prize at the 2009 Istanbul International Film Festival.

The highly emotional documentary film "On the Way to School" ("Iki Dil Bir Bavul", 2009) by Orhan Eskiköy (*1980) and Özgür Dogan (*1977) shows the young, Turkish, prospective teacher Emre become a stranger in his own country when the government sends him to a Kurdish village school. The young directing couple Eskiköy / Dogan studied at Ankara University together. "On the Way to School" is their first full-length documentary film, following three documentary shorts.

Interview requests for the filmmakers mentioned above as well as requests for further press material on individual films can be made with the press department at Filmfest Hamburg.

In 2009 Filmfest Hamburg presents the following sections: Agenda 09, Northern Lights, Vitrina, Voilà!, Made-for-TV Movies, eurovisuell and New Zealand Deluxe.

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