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Turkey’s 57th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival is forging ahead with a hybrid edition this year that will feature a mix of the best new Turkish features and cherry-picked international titles.

The storied event being held Oct. 3-10 in the bustling resort city on Turkey’s Southern coast has been through a spell of politically-prompted turbulence that led to the appointment last year of new fest chief Ahmet Boyacıoğlu and artistic director Başak Emre, who both stated that “Return to Roots” would be their mantra as they took the helm.

That’s because the 2017 and 2018 editions, headed by British-Irish producer Mike Downey, had done away with the national competition, historically the backbone of Turkey’s oldest and most prominent film event.

Therefore lots of locals during those two years “boycotted the festival” since Turkish cinema, which had been folded into the international lineup, “was practically out,” says Boyacıoğlu, who with Emre also runs Turkey’s traveling Festival on Wheels.

Their first move when they came on board in July of 2019 – appointed by Antalya’s current left-of-center Mayor Muhittin Böcek – was to reinstate the national feature competition as well as sidebars focused on Turkish docs and shorts.

This year they’ve also added a requirement that all Turkish films be national premieres, which will further help put Antalya back at the forefront of the national film landscape. (See separate story).

Last year’s edition of Antalya marked a turning point, with Turkey’s film community attending en-masse along with a nice international turnout. Boyacıoğlu notes that 86% of the tickets for the watershed 2019 edition were sold before the fest even started.

This year, because of the pandemic, it’s going to be a smaller event of course. “Unfortunately we are not able to invite any foreign guests because of the travel restrictions,” says Emre. Titles selected for Antalya’s national and international competitions will screen in three open-air venues called Under the Stars.

The Antalya Film Forum co-production platform and Golden Orange Cinema School for university students, which was introduced under new leadership last year, will be held only online.

Turkish screenwriter and director Emin Alper (“Frenzy”) will preside over the international competition jury, alongside Romanian producer Ada Solomon, Tribeca Film Festival artistic director Frederic Boyer, Iranian actor and director Niki Karimi, and Brazilian filmmaker Sandra Kogut.

The 10 international titles competing for Antalya’s Golden Orange Awards comprise six titles from Venice, including Lido opener “The Ties,” a divorce drama by Italy’s Daniele Luchetti, Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanic’s harrowing reconstruction of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre “Quo Vadis, Aida?,” and Portuguese newcomer Ana Rocha de Sousa’s “Listen,” which scooped Venice’s Horizons Special Jury Prize and also its Lion of the Future Award for best first work.

Cannes Label comedy “The Big Hit,” directed by France’s Emmanuel Courcol, about a troupe of convicts on tour with a performance of “Waiting for Godot,” Hungarian director Lili Horvat’s “Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time,” a psycho-thriller about a neurosurgeon who fears that her brain may be tricking her into a romantic delusion, and Sundance jury prize winner “Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness,” by Iran’s Massoud Bakhshi, about a young woman wrongly convicted of murder who goes on Iranian TV to try to win a pardon, are among other international competition standouts.

Expanding its online reach, Antalya this year has also partnered with arthouse film streamer MUBI, which will be featuring a curated selection of six past Golden Orange-winning films – Turkish pics, of course – including 1973 Antalya prizewinner “The Wedding,” about a migrant Anatolian family struggling to adapt and survive in urban Istanbul, by late great Turkish auteur Omer Lutfi Akad, who directed more than 100 movies.