In our continuing series on Cannes competition directors, Simon Abrams offers a mini-profile of Once Upon a Time In Anatolia‘s photographer/filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, shown here at Cannes in 2008 after winning the Best Director prize for Three Monkeys.
Most Telling Film Title: Distant. The rift created by physical and/or psychological distance between characters is key to all of Ceylan’s films, including this drama about an unemployed man who temporarily moves in with his estranged cousin.
Most Accessible Film: Climates. Ceylan’s most atypically sensual film, about a disjointed ménage a trois with an actress, a college professor and his friend’s fiance, is his best thus far. He uses an uncharacteristic but satisfying series of close-ups during the opening beach scene. Ceylan’s chilly but weirdly coquettish style takes hold by film’s end.
Stylistic Signature: Looooong takes of people staring off into outer space. Ceylan reminds audiences of the emotional distance between his protagonists and their immediate surroundings with frequent long, unedited takes.
It’s Better Than You’ve Heard: Three Monkeys. Ceylan’s last film before Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is widely considered to be his weakest, but it’s better than some critics would lead you to believe. Three Monkeys follows the entangled relationship between a chauffeur, his wife, his son and a wealthy businessman after he hits a man with his car and pays his driver to take the rap for him. The accident scene boasts his most satisfying long take.