New films have been shot from the roof… Box office monsters have taken over the Istanbul Film Festival!

While trying to write in Medyaradar, acting as painter Yalçın Gökçebağ’s henchman and acting in Okan Bayülgen’s Fun Murders Company, my traffic got mixed up and I forgot to be accredited to Istanbul Film Festival this year. The festival has lost a film writer, but that doesn’t matter. As always, the selection of the 41st Istanbul Film Festival is an eye-catcher. As every year, there are many discoveries and awards this year.

As such, I’ve paid more attention to the writing and social media posts of my fellow critics who are following the festival. I follow them with envy, but one thing stands out to me.

This year, many film classics and cult films meet the festival audience. It’s a boon to the new generation of viewers who don’t find a chance to see these films in theaters. It’s no surprise, every festival does this and has valuable pieces from the history of cinema in its selection, but Istanbul Film Festival brings more and more classic/iconic films every year, which makes for an interesting situation.

Francis Ford Coppola’s father, Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars, Once Upon a Time in America (and other films), Indonesian abuse cult cinema Mysteries of Bali, Cahide Sonku’s Expected Song.. All of them are in the festival selection and the view is this; Viewers of all ages show great interest in these films, watch them enthusiastically, applaud when the film ends and share their excitement on social media.

What is wrong with that? let me tell you; New cinema is boring and most movies suck. Hundreds of films made using digital means have swept festivals and wowed audiences over the decades. The new reality in cinema destroyed the magic of cinema. It was considered a feat to bore the audience, to witness stories even faintly drawn from his own life. However, the person who went to the movies was the person who wanted to escape. Of the worries of life, of the time he belongs to, and even of himself.

Thousands of years ago, when people lived in caves, they sat by the fire, looked at the pictures painted on the cave walls and listened to stories, accompanied by the flickering, flickering flame of the fire. In my opinion, this is the most primitive form of cinema, and people today go to cinemas that look like a dark cave and watch films with this instinct. Like in the Stone Age, they want to dream by the fire. That’s why people go to the cinema. To join the creations of an imagination greater than their own…

Yesterday morning I attended the press screening of the restored copy of Mustafa Akkad’s epic film Calling about the birth of Islam. “The film will be seen in the cinema,” they say, these films really don’t fit on television. The call made me stare at the screen with great enthusiasm and unblinking, even though it was my hundredth time seeing it.

As a matter of fact; We want to see big things on screen, watch stories and dream. We need this. We now know that without our movies, songs and books we go insane. We need escape pods to distract us from solid reality. That’s why George Melie’s Journey to the Moon, one of the first cinema classics, is a great film. Cinema can take people very far if they want to, and people are drawn to that promise.

A few years ago, tattoos of movie characters on people’s bodies were shown in the festival’s promotional film. It struck me at the time that none of these films were “festival films”. They were all great films made for the public. The same now, the most coveted films of the festival, the classics/cults of cinema history. Good films for the masses are the recipe for good cinema. You know, there is the expression “director’s cinema” in which they fill all the inexperienced visual experiments… Here is director’s cinema!

To make it short; I’m not going to make a silly statement like “film festivals should only show epic movies,” but cinema is a huge thing. The audience is very happy when they remember it. It is necessary not to belittle cinema, trying to delineate it with festivals, juries and prizes, and not to distort it with the audience. Inside all of us is that primitive human still sitting around a fire in a cave dreaming of chasing pictures painted on the wall. The Istanbul Film Festival is doing a very good job. Enjoy watching…

MURAT TOLGA SEN

murattolga@gmail.com

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