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10/28 Press Conference featuring “Cold of Kalandar” from Competition Section


©2015 TIFF

If you walk into the theater to see the Turkish film, Cold of Kalandar, without knowing anything about it, you may wonder if it isn’t a documentary. The setting, a sparsely populated mountain village near the Black Sea, is filmed in a very realistic fashion. The house where much of the action takes place looks very old, and the family who lives there seems to have always lived there. The environment is harsh, and the title is apt: when winter comes to this village, it comes hard, with heavy snows and biting wind. The naturalism of the filmmaking is almost punishing. You can feel that cold and the hard ground beneath your feet.
But eventually the contrivances of a plot and the deliberateness of the conversations convince you this is a narrative movie. It’s about Mehmet (Haydar Şişman), who endeavors to provide for his family by prospecting for ore reserves in the surrounding caves. His family gets by with a small subsistence potato field and a handful of livestock, and there is work at a nearby mine, but Mehmet wants to be his own man. Unfortunately, he can’t find any viable veins of copper or silver, and his family goes into debt. His wife, Hanife (Nuray Yeşilaraz), berates him for his “dream,” which she says they can’t afford since they have two sons, İbrahim and the developmentally disabled Musti, as well as Mehmet’s mother, to support. He then gets the idea of entering the family’s bull in a fighting contest in a nearby market town, and starts training the bull for battle.
Mehmet’s stubbornness in the face of repeated failures is the central theme of the film, according to the director, Mustafa Kara. “The character was based on a friend of mine,” he told the audience following the press screening. “I always had a question in my mind about him. What drives a person to be so stubborn? Especially when you live in these mountains, which are so inhospitable, and with a family.”
To that end, the screenwriter, Bilal Sert, wrote a story that emphasized the harshness of the setting. “The word ‘kalandar’ represents a particular situation, night times at the end of the year. That kind of cold is special. It also indicates a kind of tradition for these people.” In other words, suffering for Mehmet and his family is part of life itself, and Mehmet’s attitude, his desire to be free from the conventions that rule his neighbors, is just making his family more miserable.
One reporter commented on the movie’s most powerful scene, an argument between Mehmet and Hanife that ends with Mehmet in tears, begging his wife to “do as I say” for once. He mentioned that many Japanese men say the same thing to their wives when they want their way, a remark that gave rise to laughter in the theater. Şişman said that the scene was very difficult to act because “crying isn’t easy for a man.” And he pointed out something that perhaps many in the audience weren’t aware of, at least in relation to the film’s story: “A man can be cunning. He can use the same tactics on a woman that a woman can use on a man, and it worked in this case, because Hanife gives in. When a man does that, it can be very dramatic.”
Someone asked if the location shooting was as difficult as it seemed to be. Kara, who made many documentaries before he started making narrative films (Cold of Kalandar is his second), explained that the movie took so long to shoot because he wanted to capture each season as it really was. “So we filmed for a whole year, and when each season began, it was as if we were starting the movie over again. It became a real group project, not just among the staff and the crew, but between us and nature. We became one with nature.” But, he added, “it took a lot of money, too.”
[Philip Brasor]

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KEIRIN.JPThe 28th Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
27th Tokyo International Film Festival(2014)