Organized for the first time last year, Istanbul Modern Cinema’s Fear & Fantasy Festival, curated by Müge Turan and coordinated by Can Koç, brings together the diverse disciplines that tread the waters of horror and fantasy, ranging from horror storytelling performances and cult animated movies to examples from this year’s film festivals and silent movie screenings accompanied by live music.
Among the films that stand out in the festival is Denis Cote’s “Repertoire des Villes Disparues” (“Ghost Town Anthology”), which premiered at this year’s Berlinale and will be screened for the first time in Turkey. Also featured in the festival is another much-talked-about film from this year, the epic and radical “La Flor” (“The Flower”) by Argentinian director Mariano Llinas, which took a decade to make, was shot across three continents and has a runtime of 14 hours divided into six chapters. Also included in the program are the sci-fi classic “The Matrix,” which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, as well as Georges Franju’s 1960 feature “Les Yeux Sans Visage” (“Eyes Without a Face”).
Horror stories and talk
Known for his stories and novels, horror storyteller Mehmet Berk Yaltırık narrates the legends and frightening rumors that he has encountered in his research in the form of stories. This event will be organized on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.
Also, Anatolian horror writers Galip Dursun, Işın Beril Tetik, Demokan Atasoy, Serdar Kökçeoğlu, and Mehmet Berk Yaltırık will be in conversation about the current quest for a language that fits Anatolia’s culture of horror stories and of contemporary horror filmmaking in Turkey.
Directed by Johannes Nyholm, "Koko-di Koko-da" features Peter Belli, Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon in its cast. In the Swedish-Danish coproduction, a couple whose daughter dies of poisoning during a family vacation later go on a camping holiday in an isolated forest to restore their fractured relationship, but a trip for recovery turns into a never-ending nightmare. Everything that was supposed to be lovely and fun is replaced by fear and anxiety. The demonic characters they encounter in the forest will lure the couple into an endless spiral of terror from which they can only escape if they confront the grief buried deep inside them. The film, which premiered at Sundance this year, offers an unforgettable journey for fans of psychological horror.
'Ghost Town Anthology'
“Repertoire des Villes Disparues” (“Ghost Town Anthology”) is directed by Denis Cote and features Robert Naylor, Josee Deschenes and Jean-Michel Anctil. The film, which will be screened for the first time in Turkey, is set in the imaginary town of Irenee-les-Neiges in Quebec which has only 215 inhabitants. Strange events begin to happen in the town following the death of 21-year-old Simon in a car accident. After the young man’s death, uninvited guests “from the other world” start to appear. The film was shot on 16mm film stock to achieve a grainy effect and creates a strong sense of suspense rather than of horror. The sound design adds depth to the mysterious atmosphere that this effect creates. Fear of becoming the other and fear of the other, confrontation with the past and small-town oblivion are themes that stand out in Denis Côté’s genre-bending film.
Directed by Mariano Llinas, “La Flor” (“The Flower”) features Elisa Carricajo, Valeria Correa and Pilar Gamboa. After 10 years of filming, the production was finally released worldwide this year. According to critic Jordan Cronk, the film is “a pertinent query.” With a total running time of 14 hours and divided into different episodes and genres, La Flor is, at its core, an experimental anthology about the nature of contemporary storytelling. Four actresses play various characters in the six stories that make up the film. Throughout La Flor, these four women stand out for their brilliant performances across different styles and genres which include a B-movie of the kind that, according to the director, “Americans used to shoot with their eyes closed;” a musical with a touch of mystery; a remake of an old French film; a spy movie; and a captivity drama set in 19th-century South America. This unusual film received much admiration and acclaim and garnered awards at festivals where it was screened. A masterpiece that pushes the boundaries of originality both for the film industry and for Mariano Llinas himself, who already drew attention with his experimental and adventurous approach to storytelling in his previous film “Historias Extraordinarias” (“Extraordinary Stories”).
“The Matrix,” featuring performances Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss, is directed by Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski. The year it was released, “The Matrix” revolutionized both science fiction and the movie industry at large. Far more than just another sci-fi movie, it also emerged as an innovative production in terms of the philosophical and sociological layers it incorporates. 20 years after its release, it has long established its place among the classics of film history. A computer programmer by day and hacker by night, Neo has just started questioning the monotony of his life when, one night, he receives a message on his computer. After he decides to meet Trinity who has contacted him, his definition of reality will change. At first glance, "The Matrix" captivates the audience’s attention with dance-like fight scenes in which the characters float through the air, bullets that slow down and speed up as they fly, and the iconic Agent Smith with his sunglasses. But to quote Morpheus, one of the main protagonists of the film: “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself”.
'Son of the White Mare'
Directed by Marcell Jankovics, “Feherlofia” (“Son of the White Mare”) features Gyorgy Cserhalmi, Vera Pap and Gyula Szabo. The film was completed in 1981 and the restored version was released this year. This animated film, with its visual language and design and its use of vibrant colors, is so fascinating that you will not want to blink throughout the screening. Helmed by Hungarian graphic designer and director Marcell Jankovics, the film draws its inspiration from the folktales of nomadic people such as the Scythians, Huns, and Avars. Through the flowing dance of shape-shifting colors, the film tells the story of the three sons of a white mare who seek to save the world by destroying the dragons that live among the roots of a giant oak tree under which lies the door to the underworld. The enjoyment of watching the film is even more powerful than its story.
Eyes Without a Face
"Les Yeux Sans Visage” (“Eyes Without a Face”), directed by Georges Franju, features Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli and Juliette Mayniel in the cast. Based on Jean Redon’s novel, “Eyes Without A Face” is the first and only film in the horror genre by Franju, one of the founders of the Cinematheque Francaise. In the years since its making, the film has been an influence on movies in diverse genres by many directors including Almodovar. Plastic surgeon Dr. Genessier promises to restore the face of his daughter Christiane whose has been severely disfigured in a traffic accident. To find a suitable face for his daughter, the doctor, who feels responsible for the accident, starts kidnapping young women with the help of his loyal assistant. He experiments with transplanting their faces onto hers, but none of the grafts will take. Yet the obsessed doctor continues to abduct girls, and the kidnapped women continue to die one by one. Interweaving poetic imagery with poignant and scary touches, the film is sure to lodge itself into your subconscious.
'The Phantom of the Opera'
Gaston Leroux’s novel “The Phantom of the Opera” was published in 1910 and first adapted for film 15 years later by Rupert Julian with the unforgettable performance of Lon Chaney. The story has since become a horror classic that has been adapted many times into films, TV shows, miniseries, and musicals. A phantom with a deformed face haunts the Paris Opera House, which is built on top of catacombs. This ghost who dwells in the cellars of the opera house composes music for Christine and gives her lessons to help her become a successful soprano. A passion turned into love will soon lead to disaster when Christine falls in love with another man. The screening will present the restored version of the film, which is directed by Rupert Julian and uses visual horror elements quite effectively for its time.
'Journey to Death'
Directed by Sabri Kaliç, “Gece Yarısı Otostopçusu / Ölüme Yolculuk” (“Journey to Death”) is a road movie full of suspense about a married couple traveling by night who pick up a hitchhiker to fight off boredom, but their journey becomes a nightmare when the hitchhiker turns out to be a psychopath. İlkay is the daughter of a rich family who treats her husband Cengiz with scorn. The latter, who now heads his father-in-law’s supermarket chain, inwardly harbors a grudge against his wife. Bored with each other, the couple are entertained by the young hitchhiker but soon their entertainment turns into horror. The theorist of experimental cinema in Turkey, Sabri Kılıç has written a potent screenplay. Despite its low budget, this first feature stars some famous names including Billur Kalkavan who measures up to noir actresses with her performance and poise. The film also stars Yalçın Dümer, one of the handsome actors of that time, and Sabri Kaliç, who passed away in 2012.