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Turkish Director Kutlug Ataman’s ‘The Lamb’ Takes Top Honors At Antalya Film Festival

Turkish artist/auteur Kutlug Ataman’s “The Lamb,” a drama infused with humor set in poverty-stricken Anatolia, took the top prize at the 51st Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival which wrapped on Saturday with a high-caliber closing night gala that also saw Iranian maestro Abbas Kiarostami and Jean-Claude Van Damme take the stage of Turkey’s oldest film event.

“The Lamb” (pictured), an amusingly told tale of a rural family struggling to come up with cash to throw a banquet to celebrate their son’s circumcision, won the Golden Orange for best pic, which comes with roughy $155,000 in cash. Kiarostami, winner of the fest’s lifetime achievement award this year, handed Ataman the top statuette. Van Damme was feted with the fest’s Honorary Award.

Three female thesps in “The Lamb,” also scored acting honors, including the best actress nod, which went to Nesrin Cavadzade.

“The Lamb,” which bowed in Berlin earlier this year, had its Turkish preem in Antalya.

Other big winners of the Golden Orange Awards, which are dedicated to Turkish cinema, were director Onur Unlu, who took best director and best screenplay statuettes for “Let’s Sin, a comedy-laced noir about an unconventional imam who goes to absurd extremes in his attempts to solve a murder inside his mosque.

The best first-work nod went to director Erol Mintas for drama “The Song of My Mother,” about an aging mother and her son forced to move out of their Istanbul neighbourhood due to gentrification. “Song” also took the nod for best score. “Song” recently took top honors at the Sarajevo fest.

Best actor honors were split between Serkan Keskin, who plays the imam in “Sin” and Feyyaz Duman, who plays the son in “Song.”

Fest in the southern holiday resort city went off smoothly despite political turbulence due to the Turkish government’s ambivalent stance in the ongoing battle with ISIS militias over the predominantly Kurdish Syrian city of Kobani. Anti-government protests and violent clashes caused dozens of deaths which, in turn, put the fest at risk of regularly taking place. Instead the show went on.

In what could be a turning point, the fest’s industry component was beefed up this year, with the launch of the Antalya Film Forum, a co-prod and project development mart dedicated to giving Turkish cinema a boost at a time when its vibrancy is unquestionable and not just due to its recent Palm d’Or for Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Winter Sleep.” Younger Turkish helmers are coming to the fore.

Antalya, which is a major tourist destination, is also gunning to boost its role a Turkey’s main film industry hub.

In an interview with Variety Antalya Mayor Menderes Turel trumpeted big plans to build state-of-the-art film studios and have them completed within three years.

The 51st edition of the fest ran October 10-18

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