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DISTANT aka UZAK
USA: New Yorker Films
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Muzaffer Özdemir, Mehmet Emin Toprak, Zuhal Gencer Erkaya, Nazan Kirilmis, Feridun Koc, Fatma Ceylan, Ebru Ceylan, Ebru Yapici
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Language: Turkish (English subtitles)
USA & UK: 110 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language and moderate nudity
USA Release Date: 12 March 2004 (Limited Release - New York)
UK Release Date: 28 May 2004
Mahmut (Muzaffer Özdemir) is a relatively successful commercial photographer who has been struggling to come to terms with the growing gap between his artistic ideals and his professional obligations. His tedious workload, coupled with the lingering loss he still feels for his ex-wife (newly married and on the verge of leaving Istanbul for Canada), leaves Mahmut clinging to the melancholic and obsessive routines of his solitary life.
Without warning, Mahmut's distant relative Yusuf (Mehmet Emin Toprak) arrives in Istanbul determined to find a job aboard a ship so that he may fulfill his dream of traveling around the world. In need of a place to stay as he searches for work, Yusuf imposes himself on Mahmut, who resents the sudden intrusion, but nonetheless feels obliged to help his family. It doesn't take long for Yusuf to discover that the work he is looking for isn't available, but he manages to prolong his stay with Mahmut by formulating stories that would suggest otherwise. His hope waning, Yusuf resorts to spending his days drifting through the streets of Istanbul, slowly coming to the realization that without work he may soon need to return home. Mahmut tries to help by offering him a job as his assistant during a photography shoot, but the fix is temporary. As the two men struggle to make a connection, communication is slowly reduced to the bare minimum; and their time together must come to an end.
Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan wrote, directed, photographed, produced and co-edited this profoundly beautiful picture about detachment and isolation without allowing the austerity of his story to overwhelm the heartwarming, often comic, moments that permeate this award-winning film. Set in a wintry, contemporary Istanbul, the stunning cinematography was clearly instrumental in procuring the Grand Prix at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, where Muzaffer Özdemir and Mehmet Emin Toprak also shared best actor honors for their remarkable performances.