Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fatih Akin presents Law of the Border in Lyon

The theatre is full of people. Even I, with a press pass, have to sit on the floor. I must admit I didn't expect all this success for a Turkish film from French - and especially Lyonnese - people.

Fatih Akin (right) with Thierry Frémaux
It's October 4th. Fatih Akin is here, at the Institut Lumière, in Lyon, at the exact spot where cinema itself was born. The occasion is the Festival Lumière, a huge international event that Lyon people are rightfully proud of. The great German-Turkish film maker is here to present the restored version of Hudutların Kanunu (Law of the Border, 1966). The screenplay was written by Ömer Lüfti Akad, who also directed the movie, and Yilmaz Güney, the Kurdish popular actor and film maker author of the Cannes Palme d'Or winner Yol (1982).

This version of Law of the Border has been released this year by the World Cinema Foundation at Cineteca di Bologna. The restoration "was made possible - the World Cinema Foundation explains - through the use of a positive print provided by Nil Gurpinar, daughter of the film’s producer, and held by the Turkish Ministry of Culture. As this print is the only known copy to survive the Turkish Coup d’Etat in 1980 – all other film sources were seized and destroyed – the restoration required a considerable amount of both physical and digital repair. The surviving print was extremely dirty, scratched, filled with mid-frame splices and sadly missing several frames. Although the film was shot in black and white, it was also printed on color stock resulting in significant decay. The restoration work produced a new 35mm dupe negative".  It's pretty much what Fatih Akin tells us, adding that a full 15-second scene is missing as well.

Akin is introduced to the audience by Thierry Frémaux, manager of the Institut Lumière where the film is shown. When Frémaux thanks all the Turks present in the theater, the room is shaken by clapping and roaring. Which explains the success of this event.

Akin explain why this film is so important: "Before this movie Turkish cinema was just a sort of fairy tale cinema, with white skinned Turks and blond women. Law of the Border was the first film to show real Turks".

The role of the main character is played by Güney himself: "The film gives you an idea on how and why the Kurdish question started - continues Akin. - Güney was born here, and put much of his story in it".

Silence now. The film starts. And it is powerful.

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