Before going on its two-month summer break, Istanbul Modern Cinema presents a “best of” program from this year’s world festivals. Comprised of the latest productions of established contemporary art film directors, the selection includes the heartbreaking and ironic drama Things to Come (L’avenir) by French writer-director Mia Hansen- Løve, in which Isabelle Huppert plays a philosophy professor facing a mid-life crisis, and The Handmaiden by South Korea’s star director Park Chan-wook which played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper, which won the award for “Best Director” at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, is another film that stands out in the program. Part ghost story, part character study of a woman who works as a shopping assistant for a famous model in Paris, Personal Shopper is a bold movie with its enigmatic and suspenseful screenplay and captivating performance by Kristen Stewart, the first American actress to have won a César, the French equivalent of the Oscars.
PERSONAL SHOPPER, 2016
France, Germany/ DCP, Color, 105’/English, French, Swedish
Director: Olivier Assayas
Actors: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrif Bouaziz
This work by Olivier Assayas, the outstanding director of a new generation of French film, has a mysterious and captivating style. The director’s latest work is a ghost story as well as a realistic portrait of a lonely young woman. The viewer is drawn in by the very first scene in which Maureen, brought to life by Kristen Stewart’s superior performance, attempts to contact her recently deceased brother’s ghost in a dark, empty house.
THE HANDMAIDEN (AH-GA-SSI), 2016
South Korea | DCP, Color, 144’ |Korean, Japanese
Director: Park Chan-wook
Actors:Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo, Jo Jin-woong
The Handmaiden, which made South Korean writer-director Park Chan-wook a candidate for the Golden Palm at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, is an erotic thriller set during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1930s. The film explores the intrigue-filled relationship between a wealthy young Japanese woman, a Korean man who attempts to deceive her for her money and this man’s Korean servant. The Handmaiden is a feast full of plot-twists rendered with the superior esthetic conception of its quick-witted director.
ON BODY AND SOUL (TESTRÖL ÉS LÉLEKRÖL), 2016
Hungary |DCP, Color, 116´|Hungarian
Director: Ildikó Enyedi
Actors: Géza Morcsányi, Alexandra Borbély, Zoltán Schneider
On Body and Soul is the story of a mystical love between an introverted man and woman. Endre is the financial manager at a slaughter house near Budapest who instantly develops intense feelings for Maria, who comes to conduct an audit. But he can’t express his feelings either to himself or to Maria. Later, by coincidence, Endre and Maria, who is pedantic, meticulous and equally introverted, realize that they are having the same dream. The love they couldn’t express grows deeper in the fairy-tale-like atmosphere in which they meet each night. This film, which combines poetic narrative with harsh realism, won the Golden Bear at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival.
THINGS TO COME (L'AVENIR), 2016
France, Germany| DCP, Color, 102’ |French, English, German
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
Actors:Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon, Roman Kolinka
Mia Hansen-Løve, one of France’s young talents, brings a story inspired by her mother’s life to the screen. Nathalie, played by the accomplished actress Isabelle Huppert, is a high school philosophy teacher. A chain of unfortunate events, her mother’s illness, obstacles in her career and marital problems, leads this middle-aged woman to freedom. This film, which won the Silver Bear for “Best Director” at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival, contains references to well-known philosophers.
France, Germany, USA | DCP, Color, 113’ | English
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Actors:Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Chasten Harmon
In his latest film Jim Jarmusch, one of the leading independent directors in the US, tells the deep, quiet story of Paterson, who lives in Paterson, New Jersey. Paterson, a taciturn bus-driver in this quiet town, has a passion for writing poetry. This film, which was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, draws attention to the cheerfulness and beauty that is lost in the monotony of daily life.
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, 2016
USA, France, Belgium | DCP, Color, Black-and-White, 93’ | English
Director: Raoul Peck
Narrator:Samuel L. Jackson
American master director Raoul Peck presents a captivating documentary focusing on James Baldwin’s unfinished book, Remember This House. Baldwin’s voice returns to life with Samuel L. Jackson’s narration in this film composed of fragments of old talk shows, archive images, old photographs and articles and the ideas of the activist leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. The narrative is as poetic as it is dramatic, chilling in that it brings the realization that everything Baldwin said about racism in the US still holds true andis a masterpiece that will be remembered for a long time.
SPOOR (POKOT), 2017
Poland, Germany, Czech Repuplic, Sweden, Slovakia| DCP, Color, 128’ | Polish
Directors: Agnieszka Holland, Kasia Adamik
Actors:Agnieszka Mandat-Grabka, Wiktor Zborowski, Jakub Gierszal
Janina Duszejko is a sweet, charismatic and attractive old woman who lives a reclusive life in a mountain town near the Polish border and has a passion for astrology. When she goes deep into the forest to look for her lost dogs she finds her neighbor’s dead body surrounded by deer tracks. Events reach a mystical dimension and the whole town is affected when similar deaths occur and all of the victims are hunters. The film depicts life in rural Poland in a realistic style and reflects seasonal changes with striking cinematography. It is an escapist crime thriller that moves back and forth between genres.
AFTERIMAGE (POWIDOKI), 2016
Poland| DCP, Color, 98´ |Polish
Actors: Boguslaw Linda, Bronisława Zamachowska, Zofia Wichlacz, Tomasz Wlosok
Master director Andrzej Wajda brings a troubled period of Poland’s history to the screen. Afterimage focuses on a period in the career of Wladyslaw Strseminski, Polish painter, art theorist and one of the pioneers of avant-garde constructivism in the 1920s. The artist rejects the oppressive rule of the Communist Party leadership after WWII and is condemned to poverty. The touching story of the artist’s courageous fight for artistic freedom is enhanced by accomplished lighting and art direction.
Austria | DCP, Color, 90´|German, English, indigenous African language
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Actors: Gerald Eichinger, Eva Hofmann, Manuel Eichinger, Tina Hofmann
Ulrich Seidl, who is known for bringing the most controversial aspects of human nature to the screen with a distinctive sangfroid, presents us with a documentary about hunting tourism. A group of European tourists goes on safari in Africa to hunt animals such as zebras, impalas and giraffes. After the animals are pronounced dead, they are loaded onto trucks and cleaned by African workers. The audience is left surprised by the detached and emotionless manner in which this process is openly portrayed. This is an unusual film about hunting tourism and human nature.
With the Contributions of
THE NET (GEUMUL), 2016
South Korea | DCP, Color, 114’ |Korean
Director: Kim Ki-duk
Actors:Park Ji-il, Jeong Ha-dam, Sung Hyun-Ah
A North Korean fisherman heads out to sea as he does every day and drifts into South Korean waters when his engine fails. He is taken into custody and tortured by the police, who suspect him of being a spy. After harsh interrogation he barely manages to convince the South Korean police, but when he returns to his country he faces similar interrogation. Through the story of an individual fisherman Kim Ki-duk addresses the political issues of divided Korea, but rather than providing answers he chooses to approach his subject in an inquiring manner.