When Antalya film fest organizers announced three years ago that they were determined to turn their annual event into the Cannes of the East, it was hard to find many believers.
But as the third edition of the more internationally focused Eurasia Film Festival rolls out concurrently with the 44-year-old locally flavored Antalya Golden Orange Film Fest Oct. 19 on the so-called Turkish Riviera, there will certainly be enough glamour, glitzy galas and sandy beaches crowded with local movie moguls to win over at least a few hardened cynics.
Organized by Tursak, the government-backed Turkish film promotion body, Eurasia kicks off with more than 80 films making their Turkish premier over the ensuing nine days.
The festival will open with Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution” and close with the screening of Shekhar Kapur’s “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” — with Kapur in attendance.
Other celeb guests expected to grace the fest include Francis Ford Coppola, Sophie Marceau and Hanna Schygulla.
Meanwhile, Emir Kusturica — who enjoys a big following in Turkey — will present his film “Promise Me This.”
Before it went international in 2005, Antalya had long been the place for the Turkish film industry to confab.
And once again this year, the Golden Orange competition sections will screen nearly the entire crop of new Turkish films in categories including feature, docu and short pic.
Eurasia director Esra Even says the two fests complement each other.
“You shouldn’t think of the international festival (Eurasia) as a separate event,” she explains. “We wanted to do something to promote the national film industry and also to promote the municipality of Antalya, which is one of the festival’s biggest sponsors. The Eurasia festival and market is a platform where Turkish and foreign guests can meet each other.”
Even tries to bring a balance to the Eurasia program with its focus on films from Europe and Asia.
The program should give Turkish auds a chance to see films that don’t normally find their way into commercial distribution in Turkey, she explains. There should also be a balance between Turkish premieres and the latest pics from the Venice and Toronto lineups to give professionals something to look at.
Even is especially happy to be presenting the Israeli film “The Band’s Visit,” directed by Eran Kolirin, in competition.
There are also focuses on Hong Kong and Russian film this year.
The Eurasia fest is only 3 years old, while the Golden Orange is the oldest such festival in Turkey and is considered very prestigious. The Golden Orange is the Turkish equivalent of the Oscar, with awards handed out in 28 categories.
The festival works closely with the Eurasia Film Market (Oct. 22-25), now in its second edition (see story above left). The market attracted just over 1,000 professionals last year, and Even notes every one of them had elected to come back this year.