“Bliss”

“Bliss” is coming to screens in the U.S. opening August 7th at New York’s Cinema Village. Will be at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater on August 28th to September 3rd and Portland’s Hollywood Theatre on September 18th to 24th… 
First Run Features is pleased to announce the award-winning film, Bliss…

Adapted from internationally acclaimed author Zulfu Livaneli’s novel, Bliss is an unconventional road movie in which the executioner of an honour killing and his victim go on a journey of self-discovery.

When 17-year-old Meryem (Ozgu Namal) is found dishevelled and unconscious by the side of a lake, her family believes the worst – that her chastity has been lost and that she has been a willing accomplice in its disposal. They turn to the ancient principle of “tore”, a strict moral code governing the rules of sexual practice, that condemns Meryem to death. The duty of defending the family’s honour is given to distant cousin Cemal (Murat Han), who must take Meryem to Istanbul and kill her along the way.

The two begin to fall for each other and their journey takes an unexpected turn when they meet Irfan (Talat Bulut), an academic escaping his big city angst, who is also looking for a second chance in life. Set against the impressive backdrop of Turkey’s natural wonders, Bliss pits tradition against modernity, urban against rural and East against West, all the while refusing to settle for easy answers.

Directed by Abdullah Oguz. Screenplay, Kubilay Tuncer, Elif Ayan, Oguz, based on the novel by Zulfu Livaneli.

With: Talat Bulut, Ozgu Namal, Murat Han, Mustafa Avkiran, Emin Gursoy, Sebnem Kostem, Meral Cetinkaya, Erol Babaoglu, Alpay Atalan, Idil Yener, Lena Leyla Basak, Kubilay Tuncer, Ali Zeytin, Ugur Izgi, Lale Mansur, Emel Goksu.

Film received generally positive reactions from film community. It also had some critics point out the weak points of the film.

Derek Elley, “Livaneli’s original novel has been stripped of much of its political subtext and some of the two men’s backgrounding, and the character of Meryem has been placed centerstage. But as a quality mainstream movie, it still works . Traditional and modern mores in contemp Turkey cross paths in the strikingly lensed “Bliss” an upscale meller with shades of “Knife in the Water” says.

Atilla Dorsay praised the movie: “It’s like a magnificent dance of love and death… Another pinnacle in the current surge of the Turkish cinema.”

Cuneyt Cebenoyan, “The film has a promising start. Meryem is innocent; we know that she is raped but she is still considered to be guilty. Her story touches us, we feel for her. But this promising start ends with the entrance of the totally contrived character Irfan. Irfan doesn’t make sense at all. His relationship with her wife has echoes of 70’s Turkish films, a caricaticature of bourgeoise life” says.

NP Thompson, “The most significant work to emerge from Turkey in the past decade … provocative, thoughtful, heartrending and soul-stirring” says.

It was criticized by some critics for having one dimensional bourgeois characters and the actor Bulut’s performance. On the other hand, it was praised by others especially for its approach to honour killings which is a hot topic. It has received many awards in different film festivals and did very good at the box office.

Bliss has been awarded at following interational film festivals: Audience Award, Best Film – Montpellier, Audience Award, Best Film – Puerto Rico Odyssee Award for Best Film – European Council, Five Awards – Antalya, Best Film, Best Director & Best Actress – Funchal Special Jury Prize – Kerala, India.

Bliss was a opening night film at Mediterranean, Rome and Mumbai Asia film festivals.

Official selection at internationl film festivals of Seattle, Cleveland, Boston Turkish, Mannheim-Heidelberg, Istanbul, Montréal World.

I had a chance to talk to one of the scriptwriters of the movie Kubilay Tuncer…
“It was a one in a life time experience, a huge novel with more than several themes and intricate and time to time indecisive characters that were put on a journey with no definite end- deliberately of course by the novelist” he says and continues: “My job was to write a film. A film with a premise, happiness or bliss that needed to be subtly promised and delivered at the end in a somewhat intrigue fashion.

Social background?

A clashing classes in a transient society that has a long way to go before wiping atrocities such as honor killing from the face of its soil.

Are you happy with the film?

Yes, I am… By the time it was ready to go I almost felt like “Hercules” just off with the stables. The film made its point, made people cry and laugh and earned its name. Had I not known the director and the lead actors personally I would have felt more uncomfortable trying to guess their response to my extremely characteristic writing style, so I wasn’t surprised by their super performance, however the greatest surprise was our DP Mirsad -then unknown to me- who is top of his class with his photography in any planet orbiting sun. Bliss is a really good film, in fact so good among its peers in this part of the woods that makes me turn down many projects since.

For more information: www.firstrunfeatures.com

First Run Features was founded in 1979 by a group of filmmakers to advance the distribution of independent film. Under the leadership of the late independent film pioneer, Fran Spielman, First Run Features quickly gained a reputation for its controversial catalog of daring independent fiction and non-fiction films.

 

(Turkish Journal)

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