Gay-themed 'Zenne Dancer' Wins Awards at Antalya Film Fest

The drama, from directors M.Caner Alper and Mehmet Binay, deals with homosexuals in the Turkish military.

ANTALYA – The 48th edition of the International Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival ended this weekend with a surprising four awards for M.Caner Alper and Mehmet Binay’s Zenne Dancer, a first-time feature that deals with homosexuals in and outside the Turkish military. While the film was almost universally dismissed by international critics and festival guests, its hot-button topic led to a 10-minute standing ovation at its premiere screening and an all-female jury honoring it as Best First Film, along with awards for Best Cinematography (Norayr Casper), Best Supporting Actor (Erkan Avci) and Best Supporting Actress (Tilbe Saran).

Further Golden Orange Awards, which are considered Turkey’s Oscars, went to Hasan Tolga Pulat’s Good Days to Come for Best Film, Cigdem Vitrinel as Best Director for What Remains (whose Devin Ozgur Cinar also picked up a statue for Best Actress) and Erdal Besikcioglu as Best Actor for I Buried You in My Heart.

On the international side, only two awards were given out this year, with Leyla Kilani’s On the Edge being named Best Film and a Special Jury Award going to Yasemin Samdereli’s Almanya – Welcome to Germany.

In addition to focusing on women’s contribution to cinema and staffing all juries with female film professionals, the festival also looked to the past, presenting awards to filmmakers of the cancelled 16th and 17th editions of the festival, which was shut down in protest against censorship by the organizing committee in 1979 and due to the declaration of martial law in 1980.

Due to budget cuts, this year’s festival was clearly less internationally focused than previous editions, with French singer/actress Jane Birkin being the most recognizable name present, but nevertheless did serve up a number of interesting features including Navid Lapid’s political drama Policeman from Isreal (with the director and actress Rona-Lee Shimon in attendance) and Stathis Athanasiou’s Greco-Spanish love story Dos with actors David Fernandez Fabu and Marina Kalogirou.