Saturday, December 10, 2011

IFFK 2011 - Day 2 Night

The last two films I watched today were Once Upon a Time in Anatolia by Nuri Bilge Ceylan in Ajantha Theatre and Faust by Aleksander Sokurov in Sree Padmanabha.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

I had become an instant fan of Nuri Ceylan after watching Three Monkeys in one of the previous IFFKs. Once Upon a Time ... is a typical Ceylan film: protagonists in deep emotional turmoil and the visual landscape somehow conspired to reflect their minds.

The film narrates the events happened in a night and the next day in Antalonia, a vast sloppy grass-field in Turkey. Police officials are taking an accused and co-accused to the fields in search of a dead body they buried in the field. The entire field looks the same and the accused cannot find the exact spot where the body was buried. Rain and a windy night cannot help things. The team includes a prosecutor, a doctor, a police superintendent, his deputy, some sergeants, and two diggers. And most of them simply hate each other. Tempers fray as the tension and frustration mounts. They still cannot identify the place.

They stop work as the storm intensifies and stay in the house of a village head nearby. In the night they learn a lot deal more about themselves and others. The accused killed his friend after he had accidentally disclosed to his friend in drunken revelry that he was the father of the other's son. The next day they identify the dead body and the body is taken to the town to conduct autopsy.

More than the storyline, it is the environment of the film that fascinates viewers. You see many of the usual Ceylan visuals in this film too: various objects loosely flying around in the night wind, paths that seem to catch fire from the vehicle headlights, and solitary trees frightened by the night around them. The narrative also includes many subplots, like the pasts of the prosecutor and the doctor and the present lives of the police officials.

One caveat to add though. The film is not as gripping as Three Monkeys or Climates. Towards the end, the tension that prevails till the end in the former films somewhat relieves in this film.


Faust, a loose adaptation of Goethe's 19th century German tragedy, is more fast paced than one would expect for an Aleksander Sokurov film. It deals with the power struggle between the good and the evil (or god and satan), where Faust, a doctor and scientist, who seeks the ultimate truth and asks honest questions to himself, becomes the rope in that tug of war.

Tomorrow I am planning to watch two Competition Section films of IFFK 2011: Black Blood, a Chinese film directed by Miaoyan Zhang, and Body, a Turkish film directed by Mustafa Noori.

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