IFFR Review: The Cemil Show

While America has Hollywood and India has Bollywood, Turkey contents itself with Yeşilçam. Between the 1950s and 1970s (known as the Yeşilçam era) it was churning out hundreds of films every year, often looking to the West for inspiration. This golden period produced an eclectic mix of styles and genres, including a slew on B-movies; mainly melodramas or gangster films. These provide the inspiration for Baris Sarhan’s feature debut, The Cemil Show.

Cemil (Ozan Çelik) is desperate to become an actor. It’s an all-encompassing obsession. Unfortunately for the budding film star he is sadly lacking in both talent of charisma. After failing an audition for a remake of a 1960s B-move, he becomes fixated by Turgay Göra; who played the original character. When he realises that the hostess (Nesrin Cavadzade) in the mall where he works as a security guard is his daughter, Cemil is determined to meet the aging actor.

The Cemil Show is an offbeat mix of elaborate character study and absurdist socio-political critique. Expanding and evolving his own short film, Sarhan employs a number of styles and techniques in order to keep the viewer on edge. Nostalgia is used beautifully here, inserting clips from Göra’s old films into the very texture of the film. Somewhere between parody and homage, The Cemil Show is a slick and stylish cinematic treat.

The Cemil Show screens at IFFR.

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