| CANNES, France
CANNES, France May 17 Turkish director Nuri
Bilge Ceylan says his film "Winter Sleep" dealing with the huge
divide between rich and poor, the powerful and the powerless in
modern day Turkey is not based on current events, but is meant
to teach his country a lesson.
Ceylan's film lasting three hours and 16 minutes has
received some of the best reviews of any film shown so far at
Cannes, with the French newspaper Le Monde calling it
Despite its setting in the vast Anatolian steppe, the
atmosphere is almost claustrophobic as it shows a rich man and
former actor named Aydin (Haluk Bilginer) who uses his intellect
and position to bully his tenants and beat his wife and sister
into intellectual submission.
But Ceylan said his portrayal of abuse of power - by a man
obsessed with his own pride - is based on tales from Chekhov,
and was not inspired by recent events in Istanbul where people
rioted over the planned development of a popular city square.
"Of course Turkey is a country where there are many problems
... every day you come up with another big issue. The artist
doesn't have a lack of subject matter," Ceylan told Reuters on
Saturday, the day after the premiere of his film.
"In this climate some directors or writers like to deal
directly with these problems and some of them deal with that
indirectly. I personally don't like very much to deal with the
social matters but what I deal with are the inner worlds of the
What he does hope is that this film, among the favourites to
win the Cannes Film Festival's top Palme d'Or prize, will teach
his countrymen a sense of shame, and responsibility.
In Turkey, he said, "there is a lack of this, the culture of
confession and also and the potential of shame ... For instance,
in Japan if there's a big accident the minister takes personal
"I think as an artist I should develop these kinds of
humanistic and individualistic properties."
NO SHORT CUTS
Ceylan, who has made more than a half dozen films and won a
best director prize at Cannes in 2008 for "Three Monkeys", said
he used to indulge his love of film as a young man when he
worked as a waiter in London's rough-and-tumble Brixton area.
Waitering in the evening, he would go to a cinema near the
King's Cross railway station during the day.
"I don't think it's there now, but I used to watch two or
three films a day," he said.
So he is perfectly aware that a film running more than three
hours is not the cinematic norm, but "Winter Sleep" is full of
so many references, to Shakespeare, to religion, to music, and
to showing the evolving inter-relationships among his
characters, that he couldn't make it shorter.
"It was four-and-a-half hours at the beginning so I cut
until this but I couldn't cut it further because everything is
connected to each other," he said.
He also said the haunting passages from Schubert's A major
piano sonata played by pianist Alfred Brendel that recur
throughout the movie were not his first choice for the film, but
they fit the way the film works.
"I didn't want it because it's so famous but it was
suitable," he said.
"In a short time it creates an effect and also the piece has
many variations in itself ... you don't have to use always the
same parts, there are many parts which are similar but still
different. That was it."
(Reporting by Michael Roddy; Editing by Sophie Hares)