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Rendezvous With Directors 4: Onur Ünlü

 

February 2-12, 2017

Istanbul Modern Cinema continues to hold Rendezvous with Directors, a series of meetings featuring directors who stand out for their artistic identity and original approach in Turkey’s contemporary film culture. Hosting directors from different generations, the program focuses on the dynamics of present-day cinema and directors’ productions from their own standpoint.

The fourth guest of the series is Onur Ünlü, who moves between completely different genres using the peculiar cinematic language that he has created. Ünlü has built a considerable fan base with his career in both film and television. The program includes seven films by Ünlü as well as as well as episodes from his television series, accompanied with presentations by film critics from the Turkish Film Critics’ Association an the participation of cast members. On Thursday, February 2, a conversation will be held with Onur Ünlü at the museum.

 

 

POLICE, 2007
Turkey | 35mm, Color, 105’ | Turkish
Cast: Haluk Bilginer, Özgü Namal, Ragıp Savaş, Sermiyan Midyat, Settar Tanrıöğen

Musa Rami is a police officer who is highly regarded by his colleagues in Homicide. Though not violent by nature, he doesn’t shy away from using force when necessary; at the same time, he’s a gentle-hearted, warm, affectionate family man. He’s also the thesis advisor to Funda, a university student with whom he’s passionately in love. After he begins investigating a crime family from İzmit, they retaliate against him and his family in increasingly violent ways. Yet the gloomy mood in Ünlü’s first feature film is dispelled by parodies of various genres (action, film noir) in this humorous production that is chock-full of cinematic references.   

 

THE SON OF THE SUN, 2008
Turkey| HDD, Color, 94’ | Turkish
Cast: Haluk Bilginer, Özgü Namal, Bülent Emin Yarar, Hümeyra

Retired teacher Fikri Şemsigil has just one wish in life: to experience the supernatural. But when his wish comes true – causing his soul to possess the bodies of everyone from the local waiter to a poet – he realizes he’s gotten more than he bargained for. Meeting with new surprises in every body he inhabits, he finally seeks expert help in order to be freed of his predicament. Described by its own director as “a fantasy...a cock-and-bull story,” The Son of the Sun is not only funny and entertaining but also cleverly-scripted and sure to startle.

 

FIVE CITIES, 2010
Turkey | HDD, Color, 96’ | Turkish
Cast: Tansu Biçer, Beste Bereket, Bülent Emin Yarar, Şebnem Sönmez

Aydın, a police officer struggling to adjust to life in Istanbul, where he’s recently been assigned, falls head over heels in love with Mehtap, who works in a candy store. But try as he may, he can’t get her to notice him. Law student Şevket is equally unsuccessful with Mehtap’s co-worker Dilek, who, struggling with a personal problem, leaves for her hometown of Eskişehir. There, she finds herself in the midst of a family crisis brought on by her father, a teacher named Tevfik, involving his 11-year-old student Osman. Dilek contemplates ending her own life right then and there. Every bit as compelling as a drama from the golden age of Turkish cinema, Five Cities brings together five different people to tell their intersecting stories of life, death, and love.

 

THE EXTREMELY TRAGIC STORY OF CELAL TAN AND HIS FAMILY, 2011
Turkey | HDD, Color, 90’ | Turkish
Cast: Selçuk Yöntem, Ezgi Mola, Bülent Emin Yarar, Tansu Biçer

Celal Tan is a respected professor of constitutional law living in a small town. One day, in a fit of jealousy, he kills his young wife at the front door of his house, while his son, daughter, grandson, and mother look on from the living room. But they all remain tight-lipped during the investigation. According to Ünlü, this black comedy “is for those who cannot understand why we should love and protect someone just because that person is our father or our sibling.” It’s surely no coincidence that the blind brother-in-law is the one who sees things the most clearly in this film, or that the murderer is a law professor...    

 

THOU GILD’ST THE EVEN, 2012
Turkey |HDD, Black & White, 107’ | Turkish
Cast: Ali Atay, Demet Evgar, Damla Sönmez, Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan

With a plot alternating between fantasy and absurdist drama, this captivating film recounts the ordinary troubles of a bunch of quite extraordinary townspeople, who live in a town with two suns and three full moons in the sky. Cemal, who can see through walls, has given up on life. Yasemin, who can control objects telekinetically with her finger, is also seeking to escape the mess she’s gotten into. In the director’s words, the film “claims that even if the world were like this, human nature would remain the same; people would have the same sorrows, troubles, and concerns.” Thou Gild’st the Even was named Best Film at the Istanbul Film Festival.   

 

LET’S SIN, 2014
Turkey | HDD, Color, 110’ | Turkish
Cast: Serkan Keskin, Hazal Kaya, Büşra Pekin, Öner Erkan

Let’s Sin is the third installment (after Police and The Extremely Tragic Story of Celal Tan and his Family) in a planned series of 10 detective films. Selman Bulut is a chess-playing, bağlama-strumming imam of a mosque with an MA in anthropology, in addition to being a former boxer. One day, a murder takes place at his mosque while he is leading prayers, and he sets about investigating what happened, using methods entirely in keeping with his unusual personality.Finding himself in dark underworld, he tries to take on the corrupt system which makes him so indignant.

 

LOVE, BITTER 2009

Turkey |BluRay, Color, 106’ | Turkish

Director:A. Taner Elhan

Cast:Ezgi Asaroğlu, Halit Ergenç, Cansu Dere 

Written by A. Taner Elhan (one of the producers of Police), with a screenplay by Ünlü, this drama/detective film supplies novel answers to the question, “What will a man who has been cheated on be driven to do by love?” Orhan, a literature professor at a university in Eskişehir, is about to propose marriage to Ayşe when he learns that she has cheated on him; he then moves to Istanbul nursing a broken heart. There, he and Oya have a hasty wedding, but things start to go badly for them after they are in an accident. Eventually, it’s Orhan’s turn to be unfaithful. After he cheats on his new wife with one of his students, his life is turned upside down as he finds himself in the middle of a love triangle.

 

TELEVISION SERIES

 

LEYLA AND MECNUN, 2011
Turkey | HDD, Color,  75’ | Turkish
Cast: Ali Atay, Ezgi Asaroğlu, Serkan Keskin, Müge Boz

This extraordinary comedy series which Ünlü directed for TRT has had a steady following since the day it was first broadcast. Its 103 episodes stand out for their strange-yet-ordinary characters, subtle references, absurdist humor, and superb performances. Two babies born on the same day have to share a bed due to lack of space in the hospital; their fathers pledge to have the two infants marry each other, naming them “Leyla” and “Mecnun.” The series begins 25 years later, on the day Mecnun’s family goes to ask for Leyla’s hand in marriage. Its distinctive narrative technique often shifts backward and forward in time, enacts an event onscreen as it is being narrated, and takes us into parallel universes.

 

ŞUBAT, 2013
Turkey | HDD, Color,  110’ | Turkish

Director:Volkan Kocatürk
Cast: Alican Yücesoy, Melisa Sözen, Özkan Uğur, Tansu Biçer

The plot of this series – filmed under the general direction of Ünlü – was inspired by Beauty and the Beast. Şubat (“February”) is a man who sought refuge in the underground tunnels beneath Istanbul after a fire broke out in the orphanage where he lived as a child. Yağmur is a beautiful woman from a wealthy family, trying to stand on her own two feet by working as a newscaster. Şubat falls in love with the young woman – whom he calls “The News” – after seeing her on television and starts to follow her every move. The two learn of many things which have occurred in their lives to bring them together.     

 

FIVE BROTHERS, 2015
Turkey | HDD, Color, 115’ | Turkish
Cast: Serkan Keskin, Tansu Biçer, Nadir Sarıbacak, Melisa Sözen

This is the story of five brothers living in their historic family mansion in an old Istanbul neighborhood. After their parents die in an earthquake, the eldest of the brothers, the fisherman Sait, acts like a father to his siblings, looking out for them and protecting them. The sensitive journalist Nazım, the neighborhood imam Turgut, the bodyguard and would-be singer Orhan, the flighty horse-racing enthusiast Aziz – all of them, despite being grown men, still act like Sait’s children.One day, Sait announces his plans to get married; his brothers’ lives are turned upside down on hearing that he will fly the nest. But Sait’s dreams of marriage and children are complicated by the appearance of a former flame from his youth...

 

SHORT FILM

ONE DEATH ISN’T ENOUGH, 2012
Turkey | HDD, Color,  21’ | Turkish
Cast: Engin Hepileri, Emir Bendirlioğlu, Deniz Bolışık, Hasan Şahintürk, Oğuz Okul

A tale of the fantastic, dealing with the real and the imaginary, justice and punishment.

 

 

 
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