After 11 days of filming, the 67th Cannes Film festival has awarded its top honour Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s three-and-a-quarter hour Turkish drama Winter Sleep. The Palme d’Or , the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival, came on the 100th anniversary of the Turkish cinema. Many were skeptical about the longest film in the competition at 3 hours 16 minutes. Jane Campion, the head of jury, said “I was scared. I said, ‘I’m going to need a toilet break for three hour, and 16 minute running time of “Winter Sleep.” But the film “took me in,” calling it “masterful” and “ruthless.”
Winter Sleep is a domestic drama telling the story of a family running a hotel by a wealthy retired actor living with his younger wife and his recently divorced sister in the snowy Turkish mountains. The movie takes place in Cappadocia, the Turkish alpine region where homes are built into volcanic peaks. While the spectacular Cappadocian landscape and its distinctive cave-houses are very beautiful and interesting, Ceylan said that he reluctantly used it as a location. ‘I originally wanted a very simple, plain place, but the film had to be set in a tourist area, and I needed a hotel that is a little isolated, outside of town. Cappadocia was the only place I could find that in the winter time still had tourists.” Therefore, the beauty of the landscape is not emphasized during the movie.
Pulp Fiction director Quentin Tarantino and star Uma Thurman, in town for a 20th anniversary celebration of their film, announced the winner of the Palme d’Or. Awarded the gong by Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman, Ceylan also expressed surprise at the decision, but said he was very pleased to win, especially in the year which marks the 100th anniversary of Turkish cinema. Winter Sleep is the first Turkish film to win the Palme since Yilmaz Guney’s political saga Yol, back in 1982.
Ceylan dedicated his award to the young people of Turkey who have lost their lives by acknowledging the 2013-14 Gezi Park protests which led to the deaths of 11 people during the last year and to the hundreds of workers who were killed in the recent Soma mining disaster. Also he thanked the festival’s jury for supporting “such a long film.”
Winter Sleep is the second Turkish film to win the Palme, however this is not Ceylan’s first award at Cannes. Ceylan has previously won awards at Cannes for his films Uzak, Climates, Three Monkeys and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. He has twice received the festival’s second-place honor, the Grand Prix for 2002′s “Distant” and 2011′s “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia”. Then he won a directing prize for 2008′s “Three Monkeys.”
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