While Turkey as a nation turns its attention to the world, Turkish cinema looks inward. This year's Boston Turkish Film Festival includes works in which directors ponder the relationships between the secular and the religious, between men and women, and between destiny and identity.
Sounds like Fyodor Dostoevsky back in 19th-century Russia, which may be why Zeki Demirkubuz has taken inspiration from the great novelist. The Waiting Room (2003) is Demirkubuz's self-reflexive adaptation of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, and his latest film, Inside (2012; March 21 @ 7:30 pm), tackles the Russian writer's most cryptic novel, Notes From Underground.
Engin Günaydýn plays the updated "underground man," an artistically frustrated and envious office drone whose closest relationships are with his housekeeper and a potato, all complemented by his own bitter philosophizing. A congratulatory farewell party for one of his despised friends (a "best novel" winner for Boredom in Ankara) sends him plummeting into self-destruction. At last finding someone more miserable than himself, a benumbed prostitute, he joyously spurns his last chance at redemption. Demirkubuz evokes his character's claustrophobic dead end with an almost exhilarating acuity that is matched by Günaydýn's intense performance.
Literally underground are the characters in veteran Turkish director Erden Kıral's Load (2012; March 22 @ 8 pm). Because of circumstances that must be pieced together from the real and imagined incidents of Kıral's dreamlike, achronological narrative, two men find themselves in a death match in a coal mine. Both are torn by guilt, by duty, and by dubious notions of manhood. Kıral presents the dripping innards of the mine and its brute mechanisms as a character in itself, and the smile that ends the film is the creepiest part of all.
Both Demirkubuz and Kıral will be attending the screening of their films and will receive an award. As always, the festival offers an exciting and eye-opening glimpse into a rich national cinema yet to get proper recognition.
THE 12TH BOSTON TURKISH FILM FESTIVAL:: Museum of Fine Arts:: March 21–April 7
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