Nuri Bilge Ceylan Talks About The Truths of “Distant”
(by Howard Feinstein, March 8, 2004)

A conflicted intellectual is the main protagonist in “Distant,” Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s third feature, winner of both the grand jury prize and best actor accolades for its two leads at this past Cannes Film Festival. In one of the few funny scenes in this otherwise earnest film, he puts on a tape of a Tarkovsky film. “He loses patience in the middle,” says Ceylan. “So he puts on porno.”

Like his earlier films, “The Small Town” and “Clouds of May,” “Distant” is autobiographical. Mahmut (Muzaffer Ozdemir) is a successful, middle-aged photographer in Istanbul who has fallen into the chasm between youthful idealism and a state of quiet resignation. He isolates himself. His sporadic contacts are with women, who quietly glide in and quickly out of his home, and a few pals, who badger him about his withdrawal from life. He channels his energies into repetitive rituals like a beer at the same time in the same cafe every day and an obsession with neatness in his apartment. Everything there is
so ordered that he even sprays the inside of his shoes daily and places them in just the right spot in a cupboard.

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