Thursday, May 09, 2013

SFIFF: Present Tense

Wednesday evening I saw Present Tense, my first fiction film of the SF International Film Festival. This nearly plotless movie from Turkey shows us Mina, a young woman, unemployed, on the verge of homelessness, drifting through the narrow streets & dilapidated buildings of Istanbul, with an inchoate plan to move to America. It looks promising when she stumbles into a job as a coffee house fortune teller, but things are really only getting worse. The movie is slow-moving & lingers on Mina's despondency. The photography is attractive, & Mina's surroundings are made to reflect her inner state.

Festival programmer Sean Uyehara introduced the screening. The director Belmin Söylemez & the producer Haʂmet Topaloǧlu were in attendance. The pair also wrote the script. Ms. Söylemez told us that she experienced the same things as her main character & that she & her friends would read each others' fortunes to keep their hopes up. Fortunately Ms. Söylemez & Mr. Topaloǧlu are not as humorless as their movie, & they told us how they cajoled their crew into drinking too many Turkish coffees in order to accumulate enough used cups for the final scene. Ms. Söylemez won the festival's Golden Gate Award for best new director later that evening.

The woman seated next to me arrived with a shopping bag, out of which she ate a multi-course meal after the lights went down. Mr. Uyehara was effective at politely curbing an audience member who spoke at length about her personal life but did not have a question for the filmmakers.

§ Present Tense
Simdiki zaman
dir. Belmin Söylemez
Turkey, 2012, 110 mins.

The 56th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, Mon, 5/6 6:30 PM
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, Wed, 5/8 6:00 PM

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