New London film festival to screen Turkish box office hits

Seven new and recent Turkish big screen successes are to be shown in the heart of London next week as part of a special film festival.

Turkish Film Week will feature a “rich panorama”of “box office hits, festival award winners and Oscar candidates” from Wednesday, 12 December to Sunday, 16 December, organisers said.

The free event will take place at the Strand campus of King’s College London. There will also be question and answer sessions with visiting directors and actors, moderated by critic and broadcaster Phillip Bergson.

The screenings – organised by the London branch of Turkey’s Yunus Emre Institute, which aims to raise awareness of Turkish culture – will act as an “appetiser for a larger film event in 2019”, a press statement said.

The week will begin with the London premiere of Mustafa Karadeniz’s award-winning Plane Tree. The movie, starring Yunus Emre Çelik, Sezgin Cengiz and Şilan Düzdaban, tells the tale of Mustafa, who lives in an “inherited two-room house in a poor, out-of-the-way village in Kars, an area of north-eastern Turkey with long, savage winters”.

He and his wife Suna have a son, Rıza, who is unable to walk. When they accidently find out Rıza is not theirs they are left with a “difficult decision on what to do”.

Thursday, 13 December, will feature Grain, a film about a “seed genetics scientist in an undefined near future” and his “struggle with a genetic crisis in the city”.

That will be followed by Hicran and Melek on Friday, 14 December, which is about two friends who meet again years after their childhood and help each other to find “solace and love” away from the “constraints of a patriarchal society”.

Saturday, 15 December, will see a double bill including Winter Sleep, a film by Nuri Bilge Ceylan starring Melisa Sözen and former Eastenders actor Haluk Bilginer. Winter Sleep won Cannes’ top prize, the Palme d’Or, in 2014.

Based on two Chekhov stories and set in a rural Anatolian hotel in winter, it centres on the relationship between a retired actor and his “beautiful younger wife”.The second film of the day will be Turkish Cypriot director Derviş Zaim’s Dream, about a “bright architect who is troubled by the shape of present-day architecture”.

Turkish Film Week will come to a close on Sunday, 16 December, with two more screenings: Cold of Kalandar, depicting mountain village life, by Mustafa Kara; and Ayla: The Daughter of War, set in 1950 during the conflict in Korea.

Tickets for all film releases are free but those wishing to attend are advised to register online via Eventbrite in advance.

Festival Details

Title: Turkish Film Week

Dates: Wednesday 12 December to Sunday 16 December

Times: 7pm on weekdays, 2.30pm and 7pm for weekend screenings respectively. Doors open 30 minutes before start, entry not guaranteed for those arriving more than 10 minutes late.

Venue: Strand Building, King’s College London, Strand Campus, WC2R 2LS

Admission: Free. Register your place in advance on Eventbrite to guarantee your seat.