The 61st BFI London Film Festival (LFF) got underway earlier this week. Over a period of 12 days, the festival will screen 243 features from 67 countries in 15 cinemas across the capital.
The festival’s eclectic world cinema programming includes four very different Turkish films: Distant Constellation (pictured above), Elene, Grain, and Sulukule Mon Amour. Each one is showing twice, but several dates have already sold out, so book your tickets fast to avoid disappointment.
This “arresting and artful” documentary homes in on the lives and memories of residents in a retirement home in Istanbul. Photographer Shevaun Mizrahi’s debut film “sketches a series of charming and idiosyncratic portraits of the residential home’s inhabitants. They include a woman who escaped the Armenian Genocide, a libidinous pianist, a blind photographer who carries his camera everywhere and two men who travel endlessly up and down an elevator. The stories they tell are intensely personal,” writes /Laure Bonville for the BFI.
This beautifully framed movie juxtaposes the distinct lives of the residents with the constant change around them; as the Istanbul they once knew is rebuilt full of new high rises, viewers are left pondering thoughtfully about existential themes such as age and the passage of time.
Dates + venues: 5 Oct (18.30 at ICA Screen 1), 6 Oct (18.30 at Rich Mix)
More info and tickets: whatson.bfi.org.uk/lff/distantconstellation
Elene / Heading for that Adult Crash
This LFF shorts programme puts the spotlight on the journey from childhood to adulthood, “a headlong dive into the unknown”. Regardless of a teenager’s cultural or national roots, each one of us finds navigating old and new relationships while trying to find their place in the world a stressful affair.
One of eight shorts being screened under the theme of Heading for that Adult Crash, Elene is about 16-year-old Georgian illegal immigrant who works at a tea plantation in Turkey. Feeling threatened by various encounters, Elene tries to be invisible in this foreign land. The 12-minute clip is directed by Sezen Kayhan. See trailer below.
Dates + venues: 10 Oct (20.50 at BFI Southbank, NFT 3, sold out), and 13 Oct (19.10 at Cine Lumiere)
More info and tickets: whatson.bfi.org.uk/lff/headingforthatadultcrash
Award-winning director Semih Kaplanoğlu (Honey, Milk) returns for this spellbinding dystopian sci-fi. Climate change has caused the near-extinction of human life, forcing people into detention centres, all hoping they can enter the protected city. Outside its walls, a sparse nomadic economy exists. But a total disaster is imminent. Genetically engineered seeds, which have all but wiped out real grain, are mysteriously failing to work.
While the establishment struggles for answers, scientist Erol (Jean-Marc Barr) goes in search of famed geneticist Cemil (Ermin Bravo) who disappeared some years ago, but not before he predicted this doomsday scenario. Giles Nuttgens’ (Hell or High Water) stunning widescreen monochrome cinematography plots Erol’s journey, from a city of very ordered straight lines to the mysterious and unpredictable desert wilderness. In Grain, the twin forces of science and mysticism wage war and with the illusion of its mastery over the planet long since receded, humanity struggles to comprehend what lies in store.
Dates + venues: 12 Oct (18.00, Vue Leicester Square, Screen 7), 15 Oct (15.00 Curzon Soho, Screen 1, sold out)
More info and tickets: whatson.bfi.org.uk/lff/grain
Sulukule Mon Amour
Part of the LFF’s short films programme Hoping. Fearing. Dreaming., director Azra Deniz Okyay’s 6-minute clip puts the spotlight on Istanbul’s famed Sulukule district, where two young women use dance to express their freedom. The film is one of 12 shorts being screened, the collection depicting a diverse mix of hopes, fears and dreams in explorations of lives yet to be lived and acts of poetic self-expression.
Dates + venues: 10 Oct (18.30 at Vue Leicester Square, Screen 5), 12 Oct (12.45 at BFI Southbank, NFT 2, sold out)
More info and tickets: whatson.bfi.org.uk/lff/hopingfearingdreaming
Sponsored by American Express, LFF 2017 runs until Sunday 15 October. For the full festival programme, including special events, and tickets for screenings, visit the LFF section of the British Film Institute’s (BFI) website: whatson.bfi.org.uk/lff