While local specialty theaters
bring in many foreign films, the work of some of the biggest contemporary
international stars goes unseen. Even festival superstar Wong Kar-wai's
In the Mood for Love played for a mere week three years ago at the Varsity
Theater. Hou Hsiao-Hsien? Tsai Ming-liang? Guy Maddin? The Triangle is
still waiting for the news.
However, a youngish Turk named Nuri Bilge Ceylan is one rising director
that can be struck off the not-seen list, thanks to Duke's Screen/Society.
Ceylan, with only three features to his name, has elicited comparisons
to the likes of Bresson and Kiarostami. His first film, Kasaba (The Small
Town), was released to great critical acclaim in 1998, and it's an impressionist
painting of a movie, showing members of a Turkish community in their environment
through the four seasons. Based on a story by his sister, Kasaba was made
with non-professional actors (including other members of the Ceylan clan)
and was often shot with a crew of two (sound was dubbed in later).
Photographed in silvery, luminous black and white, we're treated to the
town as a simpler microcosm of the rituals of death and rebirth that haunt
humans wherever they are. There's a feeling of fin de siecle naturalism
here, the casual thuggishness of rusticity that belies the beauty of the
countryside. It's the kind of clear-eyed, unsentimental gaze on life as
it's lived that was found in the work of Chekhov, Maupassant and later
on, early Hemingway.
As part of its Turkish film series, Duke's Screen/Society will show all
three of Ceylan's films, starting Monday, Oct. 18 with Kasaba at 8 p.m.
in Griffith Theater at the Bryan Center on Duke's West Campus.