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Ayvalık International Film Festival to open with "May December"

Counting down to the Ayvalık International Film Festival between September 14 and 19. Organised by the Seyir Associationwith Azize Tan as festival director and Fatih Özgüven as programming consultant, the time has come to announce the first batch of films from the programme, including the opening title. Besides film screenings, interviews and panels are also scheduled during the festival. Tickets go on sale on September 8 from Biletix and the box office at Küçük Han in Ayvalık.

After making its world premiere in the main competition at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, Todd Haynes' May December has been selected as the opening film of the Ayvalık International Film Festival. Praised for stunning lead performances by Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, the film will be screened after the opening ceremony that will take place at the Ayvalık Municipality Büyük Park Amphitheatre on September 14. Described as a whimsical drama on acting, May December is about how a scandal twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation is remembered because of a new film project. We see Juliane Moore as Gracie, the real hero of the scandal, and Natalie Portman as Elizabeth, who is set to portray Gracie in the upcoming film.

From leading world festivals to Ayvalık…

The international programme of this edition of the Ayvalık International Film Festival is full of acclaimed films of the year that premiered at world festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Karlovy Vary and Thessaloniki, some of which will be screened in Ayvalık for the first time in Turkey, days after the Toronto Film Festival.

Following his 2011 release Le Havre, famous director Aki Kaurismäki's twentieth feature film Fallen Leaves had its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival as a candidate for the Palm d'Or and returned with the Jury Prize. The acclaimed film will now be screened at the Ayvalık International Film Festival. Set in the Finnish director's peculiar universe, the film portrays unemployed supermarket worker Ansa and the alcoholic construction worker Holappa after coincidentally meeting at a karaoke bar. Despite all the difficulties the main characters endure, this tragicomic love story works towards a finale that will make the audience feel good. Fallen Leaves also won this year's International Film Critics Association (FIPRESCI) Grand Prix.

Hirokazu Kore-eda's Monster made its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, where it was honoured with the Best Screenplay and Queer Palm. Later featured in the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, the film will be screened in Ayvalık just days after the Toronto Film Festival. Known for his previous titles, Shoplifters, Nobody Knows, Broker and Like Father, Like Son, Kore-eda returns with a story about a recently widowed woman and her son in a complex plot that deepens as we associate with the characters.

Known for his 1993 film The Smell of Green Papaya and 1995's Cyclo, Vietnamese-born French director Trần Anh Hùng premiered Pot-au-Feu at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival where he was honoured with the Best Director Award. The scenes in the film are almost entirely of cooking in the kitchen or at the dinner table, reminiscent of a ritual. Behind these appetising scenes is a poignant love story that addresses class conflict and the place of women in society. The incredibly talented cook, played by Juliette Binoche, has been cooking for the gourmet, played by Benoît Magimel, for years. A passion for gastronomy is not all they share; there also is a profound love.

Premiering in the Panorama section of the 2023 Berlin Film Festival, İlker Çatak's new film The Teacher's Lounge is another title that will be screened during the festival. Selected as Germany's candidate for this year's Oscars, The Teacher's Lounge is expected to collect several awards this season. Co-written by Çatak and Johannes Duncker, the film portrays a school-scale model of society. Young teacher Carla takes a stand against the administration, who is blaming the students for the rising theft cases at school. She sets a trap for the thief by secretly filming the teacher's lounge. Still, this discovery exacerbates the issue rather than solving it because the recording violates personal privacy. This development puts students, teachers, and parents in a heated debate. Gripping and thrilling from start to end, The Teacher's Lounge won five German Film Awards in 2023, including Best Feature Film.

Considered to be "one of the cult films of the future", following its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, Argentine director Rodrigo Moreno's The Delinquents is another title to be screened during the festival. The film portrays the extraordinary journey of Moran and Roman, who decide to rob the bank they work at with dreams of a better life.

Another exciting title to be screened during the festival is The Old Oak by Ken Loach, the creator of political masterpieces and the director of acclaimed films like Land and Freedom, Riff-Raff, My Name is Joe, and I, Daniel Blake. Rumoured to be Loach's last release, The Old Oak takes place in the pub that gave its name to the film in a mining town in North England where tensions are high between the Syrian refugees and the locals.

Premiering at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival as the first Jordanian film to be featured in the programme, Amjad Al Rasheed's Inshallah a Boy is another anticipated title included in the festival. The film portrays Nawal's fight for justice after discovering that she cannot inherit anything from her late husband just because she has a daughter and not a son. A stark reminder of the importance of having a boy in the society Nawal lives in.

Known for her Oscar-nominated films The Man Who Sold His Skin and Beauty and the Dogs, Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania tells a story full of hope, rebellion and sisterhood in her new film Four Daughters, which won the Golden Eye award at the Cannes Film Festival. Ben Hania returns with a successful docudrama that portrays the life of Olfa, whose two daughters have gone to Libya to fight for ISIS. Professional actors play Olfa and her estranged daughters, while the other two sisters are played by themselves. The film reveals the traumas and memories of a family.

Cinematographer Molly Manning Walker's debut film, How To Have Sex, was screened in the Un Certain Regard at Cannes this year and won the grand prize. Addressing issues like bullying, heartbreak, and, most importantly, sexual harassment and consent among youngsters, the film portrays three young friends who go on summer vacation to Crete while waiting for their A-Level exam results.

Premiering at the Thessaloniki Film Festival, writer-director Martijn de Jong's touching film Narcosis was also Netherlands' Oscar entry at the Academy Awards last year. The film portrays the ordeal of a woman and her children after her husband dies during a deep-sea diving mission. Martijn de Jong eloquently reflects on accepting death and facing loss with a sense of mystery through a mother and her two children. The director will be in Ayvalık for the film screening to answer audience questions during a session at the festival.

Competing at the Cannes Film Festival this year, Nanni Moretti's new film A Brighter Tomorrow tells the story of a neurotic director struggling with family problems who has made a film about the impact the Soviet Union's occupation of Hungary has on the Italian Communist Party. After eight years of silence, Michel Gondry's The Book of Solutions made its world premiere in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. The film is an extraordinary comedy about a depressed director trying to complete his film. Another film to be screened at the festival is A Good Person, written and directed by Zach Braff and starring Florence Pugh, known for her performance in Midsommar and the great Morgan Freeman. The film is about the struggle of a couple and their families whose lives are torn by a car accident, leaving them coping with guilt, grief and despair.

The Ayvalık Film Festival is organised by the generous contributions of Ayvalık Municipality, CultureCivic, Finansbank, the Netherlands Consulate-General in Istanbul, Bilginer-Melin Foundation for Art and Culture Education in Ayvalık, Kürşat Ayvalık, Ay Yapım, Paribu Cineverse, O3 Medya, OGM Pictures, Gold Film, Kendine Has, Boyner, Sabuncugil, MUBI, Manzara Ayvalık, Ayvalıkzade, çöp(m)adam, Nil House and the Ayvalık Chamber of Commerce. Mey|Diageo continues to sponsor the “Yeni Bir…” award.

Following the opening ceremony on the evening of September 14 at Ayvalık Municipality's Büyük Park Amphitheatre, the screenings, panels, and the Seyir Children's Day on September 17 will be hosted at Ayvalık Municipality Vural Cinema Nejat Uygur Stage, Ayvalık Sanat Fabrikası, Küçük Han, Askev Sera, Kraft and Sabancı University Creative Technologies Workshop. Other films included in this year's Ayvalık International Film Festival programme will be announced soon.


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