Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s drama 3 Faces scooped the top prize at the 55th edition of International Antalya Film Festival (Sept 29-Oct 5) last weekend.
The feature, which premiered in competition at Cannes where it won the prize for best screenplay, was feted with Antalya’s Golden Orange award and $53,000 cash prize for best film.
The director, who is currently under house arrest in Iran, participated in the awards ceremony via a video-link.
Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda won the $25,000 Golden Orange prize for best director for Cannes Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters.
Derek Doneen’s The Price Of Free, which clinched the Grand Jury Documentary Award in Sundance, clinched the Special Jury Award.
In other awards, Kazakhstan’s Samal Yeslyamova was honoured with best actress for her performance in Ayka as an illegal immigrant living in Moscow who goes in search of the new-born baby she was forced to abandon. She previously scooped best actress in Cannes for the role.
Best actor went to the youthful, big screen debutant Zain Al Rafeea, star of Nadine Labaki’s Cannes Jury Prize winner Capernaum, exploring child neglect through the tale of a young boy who decides to sue his parents for giving him a miserable life. The film also won Antalya’s Youth Jury Prize.
This year’s jury was presided over by Chinese director Vivian Qu, and also included Turkish actor Tuba Unsal, Golden Bear-winning Romanian film director Calin Peter Netzer, screenwriter and novelist Maurizio Braucci (Gomorrah, Dogman) and award-winning Chinese producer Sean Chen.
Other international guests included Cold War producer Ewa Puszczynska, Japanese actor and writer Lily Franky, and Colombian Birds Of Passage co-director Cristina Gallego and Uruguayan filmmaker Alvaro Brechner.
Gallego, who was in attendance with cinematographer brother David Gallego, picked up the Audience Award for Birds Of Passage.
Honorary awards went to popular Turkish filmmaker and actor Cem Yilmaz, Turkish-Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek and US actor Eric Roberts.
A selection of 55 films (one for every year of the festival) – spanning fiction features, and documentaries - screened at this year’s edition.
“They say a parent should love all his children equally and in the case of the selection at this year’s Antalya Film Festival this is most certainly true of my relationship with the creative masterpieces that make up the official competition selection,” said artistic director Mike Downey.
“However, I am delighted that such a high-level jury has chosen to honour a number of very important works of art which are underpinned by a profound sense of morality and social justice. The prizes reflect some of the key issues facing the world today in works by some of the very best practitioners of cinematic art from across the globe.”
The festival opened with Everybody Knows by Asghar Farhadi, who returned to the festival for a second time for the screening, and closed with The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.
Running alongside the festival, the industry-focused Antalya Film Forum welcomed 50 projects at various stages of development and production, spanning the fiction and documentary genres, as well as short and feature-length formats.
“The Forum has over the last five years become a centre of excellence for all that is good about contemporary Turkish cinema,” said the meeting’s founder and director, the producer Zeynep Atakan.
She said 520 accredited professionals from Turkey had attended, making for a 15% year-on-year increase in local participation.
“The number of international guests coming this year to support the Turkish projects in the selection was 50, which also marks an increase of 15% on last year,” she added, noting the attendance of Netflix as well as Berlinale representatives.
This year’s Forum programme also featured a workshop by Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr on directing.
National Competition dispute
This year’s festival kicked off amid an ongoing dispute with Turkey’s independent film-making community over the removal of the national competition, the country’s top contest for local cinema which ran for 53-years until 2016.
It has led to a number of filmmakers boycotting the festival, if not the industry programme.
Atakan highlighted the fact that the festival has introduced a new Turkish Panorama this year, aimed at showcasing productions supported by the Forum.
The first titles to screen in the new sidebar were Debt, Adem’s Hand and Brothers of Silence.
“The section will expand as more and more Turkish films are funded by the Forum,” she said.
Atakan also noted the inclusion of two Turkish features - Mustafa Karadeniz’s Planetree and Sefa Ozturk’s Trust - in the main competition.
Record Festival Attendance
In the backdrop, industry disgruntlement did not seem to have dented the local public appetite for the festival.
The organisers said a record total of 11,000 tickets had been sold for this year’s edition, with Sezen On The Street, a documentary revolving around street performers and the music of Turkish pop idol Sezen Aksu, had drawing a record 2,000-strong audience.