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CLOUDS OF MAY (MAYIS SIKINTISI) (director/writer: Nuri Bilge Ceylan; cinematographer: Nuri Bilge Ceylan; editors: Nuri Bilge Ceylan/Ayhan Ergürsel; cast: M. Emin Toprak (Saffet), Fatma Ceylon (Fatma, Muzaffer’s mother), Emin Ceylon (Enim, Muzzafer’s father), Muzaffer Özdemir(Muzaffer, the movie-maker), Muhammad Zimbaoglu(Ali), Sadik Incesu (Sadik); Runtime: 131; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nuri Bilge Ceylan; Artificial Eye (PAL format); 1999-Turkey-in Turkish with English subtitles)

“Sensitive realistic portrait of the rural small town natives.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This is the second part of Turkish film-maker Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s (“Kasaba”/”Climates”/”Distant”) autobiographical trilogy, following Kasaba (1997) and preceding Distant (2002). Istanbul indie documentary film-maker Muzaffer (Muzaffer Özdemir) visits his parents (Emin Ceylon &Fatma Ceylon) in his rural hometown, the same one from Kasaba, where he involves family and friends in making a film about life in a small town. The film isis dedicated to Anton Chekhov.

Muzaffer recruits the disgruntled ex-factory worker Saffet (M. Emin Toprak), his cousin, to assist him in his personal project film. Unable to pass his exams to get into the university, the agitated Saffet begsMuzafferto to take him to Istanbul and help him get a job in the big city that he has propped up as his only hope of escape to save himself. The film-maker also recruits his reluctant parents to be in the film, though the elderly father is preoccupied with preventing the government land surveyors from taking his farm field of valued poplar trees because the law says if he doesn’t chop down the trees to keep the field clear they can take away his deed to the land. Also recruited to be in the film is Muzaffer’s cute 9-year-old nephew, Ali (Muhammad Zimbaoglu), who wants his father to buy him a musical watch and Muzaffer’s mom says she will take his side if he proves himself responsible by carrying around with him in his pocket for the next 40 days an egg without breaking it. After scouting film locations, Muzaffer decides to film on the site of the disputed farmland.

There are no big moments, just ordinary everyday events that matter only to the local residents. The film, like the film within the film, desires to capture the essence of life in a small town. It does so in such a gentle perceptive way because of the natural performances by the non-professional cast members and because of its sensitive realistic portrait of the rural small town natives.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”