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Cannes Filmmaker Preview: Nuri Bilge Ceylan is Master of Distance

Thompson on Hollywood By Simon Abrams | Thompson on Hollywood May 20, 2011 at 5:56AM

In our continuing series on Cannes competition directors, Simon Abrams offers a mini-profile of Once Upon a Time In Anatolia's photographer/filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, shown here at Cannes in 2008 after winning the Best Director prize for Three Monkeys. Country: Turkey Most Telling Film Title: Distant. The rift created by physical and/or psychological distance between characters is key to all of Ceylan’s films, including this drama about an unemployed man who temporarily moves in with his estranged cousin. Most Accessible Film: Climates. Ceylan’s most atypically sensual film, about a disjointed ménage a trois with an actress, a college professor and his friend’s fiance, is his best thus far. He uses an uncharacteristic but satisfying series of close-ups during the opening beach scene. Ceylan’s chilly but weirdly coquettish style takes hold by film’s end.
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Thompson on Hollywood

In our continuing series on Cannes competition directors, Simon Abrams offers a mini-profile of Once Upon a Time In Anatolia's photographer/filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, shown here at Cannes in 2008 after winning the Best Director prize for Three Monkeys.


Country: Turkey
 
Most Telling Film Title: Distant. The rift created by physical and/or psychological distance between characters is key to all of Ceylan’s films, including this drama about an unemployed man who temporarily moves in with his estranged cousin.
 
Most Accessible Film: Climates. Ceylan’s most atypically sensual film, about a disjointed ménage a trois with an actress, a college professor and his friend’s fiance, is his best thus far. He uses an uncharacteristic but satisfying series of close-ups during the opening beach scene. Ceylan’s chilly but weirdly coquettish style takes hold by film’s end.

Stylistic Signature: Looooong takes of people staring off into outer space. Ceylan reminds audiences of the emotional distance between his protagonists and their immediate surroundings with frequent long, unedited takes.

It's Better Than You’ve Heard: Three Monkeys. Ceylan’s last film before Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is widely considered to be his weakest, but it’s better than some critics would lead you to believe. Three Monkeys follows the entangled relationship between a chauffeur, his wife, his son and a wealthy businessman after he hits a man with his car and pays his driver to take the rap for him. The accident scene boasts his most satisfying long take.


This article is related to: Directors, Festivals, Genres, Cannes, Foreign


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.