Zeynep Atakan, the producer of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Palme d’Or winner “Winter Sleep,” has come on board to co-produce and handle international sales for “Hilal, Feza and Other Planets,” director Kutluğ Ataman’s follow-up to his 2014 Berlin Film Festival player, “The Lamb.”
The film begins soon after Turkey’s September 1997 coup, when Hilal and Fatma leave their Muslim town near the Turkish capital, Ankara, to study at the state university in Istanbul. A new law bars Fatma from entering the campus if she wears her religious head scarf. Meanwhile, their downstairs neighbor, Feza, has fled her own village where she was cruelly bullied for being a transgender woman. Hilal chooses to help Feza and Fatma, and against all odds, they’re brought together in the struggle for their rights.
“Hilal, Feza and Other Planets,” which Ataman shot on his smart phone, took part in Cannes’ Cinefondation Atelier in 2015. Currently in post-production, it’s produced by Ataman through his production shingle Witch Film, and co-produced by Atakan through her company Zeyno Film, which is also handling international sales.
Variety described Ataman’s previous feature “The Lamb” (pictured), which premiered in the Berlinale’s Panorama strand, as an “amusing and sardonic rural drama” that built on the director’s previous body of work.
“’Lamb’ further proves the helmer’s broadening range following the experimental ‘Journey to the Moon’ and the Istanbul-set ‘2 Girls,’ again decidedly coming down on the side of the womenfolk and sure to please fest auds and crix alike,” read the magazine’s review.
Along with Ceylan’s “Winter Sleep,” which took home the top prize in Cannes in 2014, Atakan has produced other titles from the top Turkish helmer including Cannes Grand Prix winner “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” and “The Wild Pear Tree.” She also co-produced Elia Suleiman’s “It Must Be Heaven,” which bowed in Cannes’ main competition in 2019.
“After ‘The Lamb,’ and his significant exhibitions, Kutluğ is following up with a very striking and completely independent film,” she said.