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Curb Your Manspreading, Please

 

June 21 – July 1 2018

Istanbul Modern Cinema presents a selection of films from this year’s leading female directors. During the recent period, issues regarding women’s rights and the discrimination of women within the film industry have significantly shaped current affairs headlines, while we have witnessed the “MeToo” movement leaving its mark on this year’s Academy Awardsand motivating the women’s protests during the 71st Cannes Film Festival as well as the birth of many solid women’s films and a renewed solidarity of women. Istanbul Modern Cinema’s “Curb Your Manspreading Please” program consists of women’s films that come from a variety of different languages and geographies ranging from Japan to France and from Afghanistan to Iran, and is an acknowledgment, an emphasis and a show of support to this solidarity of women that is present in the media and daily life much more than before. Consisting of 11 films, the program selection includes Pelin Esmer’s fourth feature film Something Useful, Naomi Kawase’s gentle and thoughtful film Radiance, a 2017 hit Western, and the animation favorite The Breadwinner.  

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AVA, 2017

Iran, Canada, Qatar |DCP, Color, 102' |Farsi
Director: Sadaf Foroughi
Cast: Vahid Aghapoor, Parnian Akhtari, Sarah Alimardani

Ava is a high school student who lives a very programmatic life with her family in Tehran. One of Ava’s biggest passions is playing the violin, and like all teenagers, she enjoys spending time with her friends. Ava’s mother overreacts when she finds out that Ava is hanging out with a boy her age, and takes her to a gynecologist. Ava is unable to forget this traumatic experience, and when she learns about the “inappropriate” behaviors of her mother as a teenager, she begins to skip her violin lessons and starts acting out at school. As the boundaries set by her mother begin to get tighter and tighter, Ava’s rebellion and yearning for independence will also begin to grow exponentially.

 

 

RADIANCE (HIKARI), 2017

Japan, France |DCP, Color, 101' | Japanese
Director: Naomi Kawase
Cast: Masatoshi Nagase, Ayame Misaki, Tatsuya Fuji

Selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Radiance depicts the story of Misaki who writes film versions for the visually impaired and the famous photographer Masaya who is slowly losing his eyesight. Masaya starts to mercilessly criticize Misaki’s depictions at a test group where Misaki is attempting to illustrate what he sees in the film with a balanced and unspoiled manner using his words. Although it begins skittishly due to Masaya’s criticism, the relationship between the two turns into an emphatic and affectionate one in time. Flowing seamlessly with Naomi Kawase’s unique style, Radiance investigates new ways of expanding our viewpoints and communication.

 

 

TOUCH ME NOT, 2018

Romania, Germany, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, France |DCP, Color, 125' | English, German
Director: Adina Pintilie
Cast: Laura Benson, Tómas Lemarquis, Christian Bayerlein

In her first feature film Adine Pintilie portrays a woman with intimacy issues and her struggle to be at peace with her own body and the bodies of others with a storyline that constantly moves between fiction and reality. Pintilie’s drama where taboos are broken, physical and perceptual limits are challenged and where the phenomenon of intimacy is addressed through unconventional methods has won the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.

 

 

THE SOUNDING, 2017

USA |DCP, Color, 93' |English
Director: Catherine Eaton
Cast: Catherine Eaton, Michael Simpson, Laurabeth Rapaz

After years of silence, Liv who lives on a remote island suddenly starts speaking with words that remind one of Shakespeare. A neurologist who is brought to the island diagnoses Liv’s condition as a psychological disorder and admits her to a hospital for treatment. However, Liv will not stop fighting for her freedom, defending her differences and rejecting treatment. Catherine Eaton’s first feature film as a director as well as a leading actress portraying a brave woman is also a call of support to all individuals who have been marginalized in today’s society.

 

 

LET THE SUNSHINE IN (UN BEAU SOLEIL INTÉRIEUR), 2017

France |DCP, Color, 94' |French
Director: Claire Denis
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois, Philippe Katerine, Gérard Depardieu

One of France’s most fearless and outspoken auteur directors Clarie Denis presents what can be considered as an autobiographic film. Coming to life with Juliette Binoche’s masterful acting, Isabelle is a well-known painter in her fifties who is in search for romance and passion at this stage in her life but is disappointed every single time. The men she encounters are all dull, arrogant, withdrawn or self-centered, but Isabelle lets them all in before she sends them away from her life with a roll of her eyes. Let the Sunshine in is a salient satire that comes to the fore with its wry screenplay and witty approach.

 

 

SOMETHING USEFUL (İŞE YARAR BİR ŞEY), 2017

Turkey |DCP, Color, 104' |Turkish
Director: Pelin Esmer
Cast: Başak Köklükaya, Öykü Karayel, Yiğit Özşener

Two strangers meet on the night train. The poet Leyla is on her way to meet her high school friends after many years. Canan is on the way to a nursing “job.” Leyla is intrigued by Canan from the moment she steps on board to the train. After Leyla bombards her with never-ending questions, the young nurse Canan reveals her reasons for being on this train, and a one-way journey for the two begins. The themes of curiosity, braveness and existentialism that shape Leyla’s desire to go to this high school dinner become clearer when Canan’s secret is revealed. Something Useful has received several awards from this year’s film festivals with its directorial finesse and outstanding acting.

 

 

DARK RIVER, 2017

United Kingdom |DCP, Color, 90' |English
Director: Clio Barnard
Cast: Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, Sean Bean

Alice is a respected sheep-shearer travelling from farm to farm in Northern England. Following the news of her father’s passing, she returns to her family’s farm after 15 years, and begins to run from one job to another in an attempt to keep the ghosts of the past at bay. When she encounters her brother and goes back to the places where she has endured her father’s abuse, all of the bad memories she has been avoiding are resurfaced. Famous for her films The Selfish Giant and The Arbor, Clio Barnard’s Dark River is an intense social realist drama.

 

 

THE BREADWINNER, 2017

Ireland, Canada, Luxemburg | DCP, Color, 94' | English
Director: Nora Twomey
Voice cast: Saara Chaudry, Soma Chhaya, Noorin Gulamgau

One of this year’s most talked about animations, The Breadwinner is a perfect example of women’s solidarity; Nora Twomey’s directorial debut is adapted from Deborah Ellis’s bestseller and is produced by Angelina Jolie. Living in Afghanistan, the 11-year-old Parvane cuts her hair to disguise herself as a boy and starts to work the odd job when the Taliban wrongfully arrests her father. Throughout the film, we watch Parvane’s struggle to stay alive all the while she tries to create fantastical stories from which she draws strength to keep her family together.

 

 

MUDBOUND, 2017
USA | DCP, Color, 134' |English
Director: Dee Rees
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund

During the final years of the Second World War, the McAllan family is forced to let go of their comfortable lives in Memphis and move into a farm in the deprived and muddy Mississippi. The racial tensions between the McAllans and the Jacksons who share the land are a perfect example of the racism present in social life even though slavery has presumably been abolished. When each family welcomes their sons from the war, the men unite as two war veterans rather than men with different skin colors, and begin to nurture a budding friendship. With Mudbound—a striking film with a very strong cast—cinematographer Rachel Morrison became the first woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Cinematography.

 

 

DISTANT CONSTELLATION, 2017

Turkey, USA, Netherlands | DCP, Color, 82' | Turkish, English, French
Director: Shevaun Mizrahi

Taking up film directing after years of working as a photographer, Shevaun Mizrahi presents her first feature documentary film portraying the dream-like story of a retirement home in Istanbul where time seems to have stopped. As the construction next to the retirement home continues as a symbol of transformation, hope and the future, the stories told by the retirees take us on a journey in the past. The Armenian Selma tells the sad stories of her childhood, an old photographer whose sight has long gone fiddles with his camera, and an old Casanova talks of his many affairs and even ends up asking Mizrahi for her hand in marriage! Distant Constellation depicts not only the people it follows but also the concept of time. Each frame of this documentary Mizrahi has single-handedly created over the course of six years is a meticulously selected tale. 

 

WESTERN, 2017

Germany, Bulgaria, Austria |DCP, Color, 119' |German, English, Bulgarian
Director: Valeska Grisebach
Cast: Meinhard Neumann, Reinhardt Wetrek, Syuleyman Alilov Letifov

A group of German construction workers are working on a difficult road building in rural Bulgaria. However the construction doesn’t go as planned. One of the workers, Meinhard challenges their construction chief and starts befriending locals. Meinhard’s action will cause both sides to become weary of one another in whatever situation that may arise. In her third feature film, Valeska Grisebach is criticizing male dominance and economic imperialism with a wry narrative that focuses on the concept of alienation amongst a small community, which contains two different cultures.

 

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