The master auteur, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Winter Sleep will represent Turkey at the Foreign-Language Academy Awards in 2015.
Winter Sleep clinched the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May. It was also the choice of critics there.
Also see: Winter Sleep wins Palm d’Or at Cannes
And this is the third time that Turkey has picked Ceylan's work. His Once Upon A Time In Anatolia and Three Monkeys were also sent up for the foreign- language Oscars. But neither the director nor the country has ever received even a nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Turkey has submitted 20 movies since the foreign-language category was established in 1956.
However, it is quite possible that Winter Sleep will go on to win not just a nod but the actual statuette. For among Ceylan's films his latest one is by far the best.
Really long at over three hours, Winter Sleep nonetheless is a gripping drama of a former actor who turns to writing newspaper columns and running a mountain top hotel, living there with his young wife and his sister.
It's hard to imagine why one has been so enraptured by the movie. It really does not have a story in the real sense of the term. But it has a great script, which is narrated with exciting ease, and helping to push the narration are the riveting performances. The cast acts with such incredible precision and feeling that Ingmar Bergman himself would have been thrilled.
Winter Sleep is magnificently mounted, the lighting is alluring, and the shots - each one of them - are composed with breathtaking imagination. Filmed in a small Cappadocia village in the middle of scenic natural beauty, Winter Sleep centres on the personal tensions among the three lead characters.
Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), a middle aged former actor, has inherited the hotel and most of the land around it. He is a thinker, and one of his projects is to write the history of Turkish theatre. His sister, Necla (Demet Akbag), is bitter, cynical and sharp tongued. She is staying in the hotel and is going through a divorce. Wife Nihal (Melisa Sozen) feels intellectually inferior to her husband and tries to fill the void by engaging in social work. Her husband does not like this.
Watch: Winter Sleep trailer
They live in a kind of pressure-cooker existence, which gets accentuated by the coming of winter, a season that keeps them indoors and at nodding distances from one another. A little later into the film, more characters are introduced: an unruly boy who breaks the window pane of Aydin's car, the boy's apologetic father, aggressive uncle and so on. Through these men and situations, Ceylan establishes his protagonist's personality.
Winter Sleep has plenty of drama. And there is nothing lethargic or sleepy or wintery about the movie. With haunting close-ups (that made Bergman such a powerful director), Ceylan presents what is essentially an intimate tale of three people, forced to live in close proximity by relationships and the season itself. "You see the seasons very well in Turkey, and it changes human psychology and behavior," said Ceylan at Cannes.
Meanwhile, the deadline for submissions in the foreign-language category is October 1, and the Academy will announce the nominations on January 15, 2015. The prizes will be handed out on February 22, 2015.
As for India, the Film Federation of India sets up a committee of experts that will select the contender. In the recent past, there have been suggestions that since the country produces some 1200-1300 films every year, it should be allowed to send up more than one.
The committee is scheduled to meet around the middle of September.