Batin Ghobadi’s debut feature is an elusive crime drama that unfolds in the mountainous borderland of Iraqi Kurdistan. The younger brother of Bahman Ghobadi, best known for A Time for Drunken Horses, the writer-director was born in the region, albeit on the Iranian side of the border, and its troubled history resonates obliquely throughout the film. It is suggested that the region is engaged in a period of modernisation, through major construction projects and crackdowns on corruption, but its landscape remains rugged and primal, its men desolate and wracked with guilt.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey is a place of complicated ethos and Winter Sleep, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s meandering three-hour work attempts to obliquely capture some of this complexity where his previous films would simply obliterate the vast swathes of Turkey’s predominantly “oriental”, non-secular, less Cannes-friendly identity. With this umpteenth filmic attempt at decorticating the ennui of the westernised, urban Turkish middle class, Ceylan, the poster boy for the part of Turkey that views itself as a precinct of Europe, and a Cannes darling, eventually succeeded in winning the Palme d’Or.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep makes its way within the Cannes Film Festival and his own oeuvre as if a slow-burning candle: magnificently glacial in pace yet fiery all the way down. It immediately sets itself apart from Ceylan’s recent pictures, where characters are motivated by distance and loneliness, as it takes the shape of a chamber drama, fully dedicated to sealing its characters within the beautiful homes crafted out of the Anatolian steppes. The cast is closer together, bringing forth intense waves of casual conversation and relentless debate, all centered around the brutal patriarchal figure of quasi-intellectual Aydin (Haluk Bilginer). He’s confronted with his own role within his family and his community, as well as how far his power may reach, all through the context of Turkish drama. This makes Winter Sleep a robust Shakespearean melodrama with Ceylan clearly at the top of his game.