New York, NY (June 14, 2011) — The Cinema Guild announced today the acquisition of U.S. distribution rights to Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,” co-winner of the Grand Prix at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The deal was negotiated by Ryan Krivoshey of The Cinema Guild with Sezgi Üstün on behalf of producer Zeynep Ozbatur of Zeyno Film. Theatrical release details will be forthcoming.
A haunting story about a group of men, among them a local prosecutor, doctor, police chief and two murder suspects, who go in search of a missing body in the Anatolian steppes, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” is a breathtakingly beautiful work from celebrated Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
Born in Istanbul in 1959, Ceylan is the director of six feature films, including “The Town” (1997), “Clouds of May” (1999), “Distant” (2003), which won the Grand Prix and the Best Actor prize at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, “Climates” (2006) and “Three Monkeys” (2008), winner of the Best Director award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.
It’s all over but the verdict. Sunday night will bring the Cannes Film Festival to a close with the announcement of winners for the various awards given for the Official Competition of this 64th Cannes affair. And it looks like a wide-open race for the coveted Palme d’Or. No one film seems to have jumped clearly ahead as there is still lots of speculation about whether it could be the Malick (cineaests here refer to the movies by their directors’ last names, not the film title), the Dardennes for the third time, the Kaurismaki, the Winding Refn, the Hazanavicius, the Almodovar or, heaven forbid(!), the von Trier. Or maybe, as so often happens, it will go to the unexpected or something no one is really buzzing about on the Croisette.
Saturday night brought the final two films in the competition. Radu Mihaileanu’s French entry La Source Des Femmes (The Source) was rapturously received at its 7 PM Lumiere premiere with a prolonged standing ovation and much applause even during the film itself. The story, or fable, of a group of women in a small village (somewhere between North Africa and the Middle East) who decide to wage a controversial sex strike unless their men help them fetch the water is entertaining and enlightening and could figure as a last-minute contender (as well as a strong possibility to be France’s entry for the Oscars). I doubt that will be the case for the final film, which premiered at 10:30 PM: Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s two-hour-and-37-minute Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, which I think may still be going on. The longest in 20-film group of contenders feels twice that length, a contemplative minimalist art film with no music and no real plot beyond anything a typical episode of CSI covers in its first five minutes. It is one of those movies fest directors love where people stare a lot, ponder a lot and talk about being bored. At least it provided some much-needed nap time; maybe the jury will give Ceylan a prize for letting them catch up on their sleep. He won an award here in 2008 for the overrated Three Monkeys, so you never know, but Robert De Niro’s jury has a lot better choices than this. Can you tell I am not a fan?