Nobody likes an auteur like the BFI, who are staging their second retrospective of the Turkish director in a decade. Ten years ago, Ceylan only had three features to his name: the loose trilogy of Kasaba, Clouds of May and Uzak, three subtly self-reflexive tales of ordinary life in contemporary Turkey. Yet by this early stage, he already had a style to call his own. Unshowy, realist performances; subdued colours and bold compositions; a warm, wry humour –these are the elements that shape his tales of domestic tensions and doomed friendships. At once plainly quotidian and achingly nostalgic, they are to Turkey what Abbas Kiarostami’s work is to Iran.
The four features Ceylan has since made are in the same mould, but they betray a subtle evolution of his craft. A switch to digital has added depth and a gritty edge to his ‘look’, while his scripts have thickened with complexity. Climates tracks the gradual estrangement of an Istanbul couple (played by Ceylan and his wife Ebru); Once Upon a Time in Anatolia shifts the action to Turkey’s forlorn central steppes for a wonderfully atmospheric road trip-cum-existential drama.
This year’s Winter Sleep, a Cannes hit whose UK release coincides with the retrospective, sees him in full-on Chekhov mode: his most dialogue-heavy work yet, it’s an intricate study of social hierarchy, high culture and (you guessed it) familial discord in a remote Anatolian hotel. It’s the masterly culmination of a remarkable career.
|What||Nuri Bilge Ceylan Season, BFI|
|Where||BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, Southbank, London, SE1 8XT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Embankment (underground)|
27 Oct 14 – 27 Nov 14, Various
|Price||£11.50 (£9 concessions)|
|Website||Click here to book via BFI.|