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Mental Minefields: The Dark Tales of Zeki Demirkubuz

June 8, 2008 - June 28, 2008

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Block C, June 8

“An auteur with a genuine spiritual sensitivity, Zeki Demirkubuz (is) one of the world’s few convincing existential filmmakers.”—Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix

Traditionally, film critics have made a sharp distinction between a cinema of cold, hard reality and a cinema of an interior, mental world inflected by fantasy and invention. Zeki Demirkubuz is one of the contemporary filmmakers who most make a lie of that hollow distinction. Together with Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Yesim Ustaoglu, and a handful of others, Demirkubuz has been leading a revolution in Turkish cinema for the past decade.

Born in Isparta in 1964, Demirkubuz was politically engaged at an early age, even spending a term in jail during the end of his teenage years. After studies at Istanbul University, he came to the cinema as an assistant to director Zeki Okten, whom he has often credited as his mentor. Demirkubuz established a strong personal style right from his debut feature, Block C. A powerful exploration of a woman whose marriage is falling apart, the film moves freely between the perceptual world and the world of the woman’s fears and desires.

The burden of realism, especially for non-Western filmmakers, is often so strong that characters are reduced to social archetypes and understood as products or reflections of their environments. Demirkubuz’s characters could never be seen as such. His protagonists all have astonishingly rich, varied, and at times frightening psychologies, yet one never feels that their inner worlds are completely divorced from the external circumstances of their lives. His films allow us to peer into the minds of his characters, helping us to understand where they’ve come from—and where they might be going.

This series presents seven of Zeki Demirkubuz’s feature films, including the trilogy that for many constitutes the core of his achievement: the “Tales of Darkness,” composed of Fate, Confession, and The Waiting Room, each a completely separate film but also part of an overall portrait of morality in the contemporary world.

Richard Peña
Film Society of Lincoln Center

Sunday, June 8, 2008
4:00 p.m. The Waiting Room
In his most personal film, Demirkubuz himself plays an alienated auteur who can’t wrap his mind around Crime and Punishment.

Sunday, June 8, 2008
6:00 p.m. Block C
A provocative parable of modern living and female identity, Demirkubuz’s first feature “portrays high-rise life as an inescapable moonscape.”—Village Voice

Saturday, June 14, 2008
6:30 p.m. Innocence
A young man just out of prison is drawn into a disturbing love triangle in Demirkubuz’s acclaimed breakthrough film.

Saturday, June 14, 2008
8:35 p.m. The Third Page
Another hapless hero—a suicidal movie extra—whose life is transformed and transfixed by a woman, Demirkubuz’s own brand of irony.

Saturday, June 21, 2008
6:30 p.m. Fate
Transplanting Camus’s The Stranger to Istanbul, Demirkubuz’s absurdism “suggest(s) Beckettian farce as realized by the Coen brothers.”—Village Voice

Saturday, June 28, 2008
6:30 p.m. Confession
A husband’s suspicions lead to “the most shattering depiction of marital life since Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage.”—Edinburgh Film Festival

Saturday, June 28, 2008
8:15 p.m. Destiny
This prequel to Innocence develops that film’s characters and won the Best Director prize at the 2006 Istanbul Film Festival.

Program notes adapted from notes published by Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Mental Minefields: The Dark Tales of Zeki Demirkubuz is a touring exhibition organized by ArteEast and Moon and Stars Project (www.moonandstarsproject.org).