Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s new film Kuru Otlar Üstüne to compete for the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival

Turkish film director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s latest film, Kuru Otlar Üstüne [‘On Dry Grass’] has been selected to compete for the Palme d’Or and other top prizes at France’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

Kuru Otlar Üstüne is one of 19 feature films to be selected for the festival’s 76th edition, which this year will run from 16 May to 27 May.

Istanbul-born Ceylan, 64, has a strong track record at Cannes, his films winning multiple prizes during his 25-year career.

His latest movie was filmed in Erzurum, eastern Turkiye, and stars Deniz Celiloğlu, Merve Dizdar and Musab Ekici. The screenwriters are Ebru Ceylan and Akın Aksu, and the film was co-produced by Arte France.

Kuru Otlar Üstüne’s release is one of hotly anticipated films of the year. The story centres on the experiences of a young teacher, Samet (Celiloğlu), who had hoped to be posted to a school in Istanbul, has instead must completed his mandatory placement in a school in a remote village in Anatolia. His life is turned upside down when he and another male teacher, Kenan (Ekici), are accused of harassment by two female students.

Bilge’s success at Cannes

The film, like many of Ceylan’s films, will enjoy its world premiere at Cannes. The Turkish director’s success at the renowned film festival, where he has won a number of major prizes, have helped establish him as one of the world’s finest auteurs.

It was 20 years ago that Ceylan’s film Uzak [‘Distant’] received the Grand Jury Award at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.

Three years later, Ceylan’s film İklimler [‘Climates’] was accepted into the competition section at Cannes Film Festival, although it didn’t win any prizes.

In 2008, Ceylan won the Best Director Award at Cannes with the movie Üç Maymun [‘Three Monkeys].

At the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, he was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for his film Bir Zamanlar Anadolu [‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’].

Three years later, Ceylan bagged the top prize, the Palme d’Or, at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival with Kış Uykusu [‘Winter Sleep’].

Ceylan also participated in the 2018 Cannes Film Festival with his film Ahlat Ağacı [‘The Wild Pear Tree’] but didn’t win any prizes.

Turkiye’s only other film success at Cannes was with Yol [‘Road’]. Written by and starring Yılmaz Güney, and directed by Şerif Gören, the film was awarded the Palme d’Or in 1982.

All the films in competition at Cannes 2023

Cannes is arguably the world’s most famous film festival and, not surprisingly, many film directors are eager to have the movie screened during this prestigious event.

Yet few of the many films that screen during the 11-day festival form part of the official Cannes selection and even fewer are put forward for prizes (‘in competition’). It means the standard of those competition for one of the seven big prizes at Cannes is extremely high and 2023 is no exception.

There are two British directors in the official Cannes ‘In Competition’ selection: Ken Loach (Kes, I, Daniel Blake, and Looking For Eric) and Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, and music videos for the likes of Jamiroquai, Radiohead and Massive Attac). Other directors familiar to British cinema audiences include Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Royal Tenenbaums) and Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club, Paris, Texas, and Wings of Desire).

Along with Ceylan, Turkiye has another film of interest in the final 19 in competition this year: Club Zero, a thriller drama directed by Jessica Hausner, which is co-produced by Turkiye’s state broadcaster TRT.

All 19 feature films in competition at the 76th Cannes Film Festival are:

Anatomy Of A Fall – Justine Triet

Asteroid City – Wes Anderson

Banel E Adama – Ramata-Toulaye Sy | İlk Film

La Chimera – Alice Rohrwacher

Club Zero – Jessica Hausner

Fallen Leaves – Aki Kaurismaki

Firebrand – Karim Aïnouz

Il Sol Dell’avvenire – Nanni Moretti

Kuru Otlar Üstüne – Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Last Summer – Catherine Breillat

May December – Todd Haynes

Monster – Kore-Eda Hirokazu

Olfa’s Daughters – Kaouther Ben Hania

Perfect Days – Wim Wenders

Rapito – Marco Bellocchio

The Old Oak – Ken Loach

The Passion of Dodin Buffant – Tran Anh Hun

The Zone of Interest – Jonathan Glazer

Youth – Wang Bing

Main image, top, of Nuri Bilge Ceylan on the set of Ahlat Ağacı / The Wild Pear Trees in 2018. Photo © Detailfilm/Cinema Guild/Kobal/Shutterstock (10087685e)