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May 16 - May 21

Still Lives: The Films of Nuri Bilge Ceylan

With only four feature films to his credit, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has emerged as one of the masters of contemporary cinema. Trained as a photographer, Ceylan has gained international acclaim (including citations at the Cannes Film Festival for both Distant and Climates) for intent, observational works which beautifully capture the details of everyday life in exquisitely composed shots. Working in a minimalist style, Ceylan often relies on nonprofessional actors—including members of his own family—to perform in his films, which have been praised for their naturalistic qualities.

Film descriptions courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts.  This program is co-presented with The Kokkalis Program on Southeastern and East-Central Europe.

May 16 (Wednesday) 7 pm
May 21 (Monday) 9 pm

Cocoon (Koza)

Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey 1995, 35mm, color, 20 min.
With Fatma Ceylan, Mehmet Emin Ceylan, Turgut Toprak
No Dialogue

An older couple (played by Ceylan’s parents) live separately as a result of their painful past. When they reunite, their meeting does not go as planned. Print courtesy of Akaya Films.

The Small Town

Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey 1997, 35mm, color, 82 min.
With Mehmet Emin Toprak, Fatma Ceylan, Mehmet Emin Ceylan
Turkish with English subtitles

Told from the perspective of two children, and in four parts which
run parallel to the seasons, The Small Town describes relationships between members of a Turkish family as brother and sister encounter the darkness and mysteries of social life, nature, and the adult world. Based on an autobiographical story by the director's sister Emine Ceylan, The Small Town is “a remarkable first feature. . . a strikingly original, vibrantly sensitive portrait of an extended family living in a remote Aegean village” (Variety). Print courtesy of University of California Los Angeles Film & Television Archive.

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May 16 (Wednesday) 9 pm
May 21 (Monday) 6:30 pm

Clouds of May

Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey 1999, 35mm, color, 131 min.
With Mehmet Emin Ceylan, Muzzafer özdemir, Fatma Ceylan
Turkish with English subtitles

Clouds of May tells the story of Muzaffer, who returns to his native town to make a movie and sets about recruiting family and friends to work in the film. Meanwhile his father is bent on saving the small forest on his property from confiscation and his cousin, a young town dweller whose efforts seem doomed to failure, dreams of going to Istanbul.  Clouds of May is told with subtle comedy and charm, and inscribed with beauty and a reverence for the lives of its characters. Print courtesy of Akaya Films.

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May 18 (Friday) 7 pm
May 19 (Saturday) 9 pm


Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey 2003, 35mm, color, 110 min.
With Muzaffer Özdemir, Mehmet Emin Toprak, Zuhal Gencer
Turkish with English subtitles

Mahmut is a commercial photographer who has been struggling to come to terms with the growing gap between his artistic ideals and his professional obligations. As he clings to the melancholic and obsessive routines of his solitary life, Mahmut’s distant relative arrives in Istanbul. As the two men struggle to make a connection, the film’s elegant cinematography and deeply pensive tone confirm “the emerging talent of Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan" (Variety). Print courtesy of New Yorker Films.

May 18 (Friday) 9:15 pm
May 19 (Saturday) 7 pm


Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey 2006, 35mm, color, 97 min.
With Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Nazan Kesal
Turkish with English subtitles

Hailed as "the only masterpiece of the [2006 Cannes] festival" by the New York Foundation for the Arts, Climates is the story of a searing relationship between a man and a woman (played by the director and his wife, Ebru Ceylan) that becomes a psychological portrait of an insecure man. At the close of her rave review, New York Times critic Manohla Dargis compares Ceylan to Michelangelo Antonioni, commenting that "while [Ceylan’s] films are similarly personal, they're more accessible… The mysteries of his work are those of the heart, the head, the soul." Print courtesy of Zeitgeist Films.

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700