At a ceremony held Monday at the Paris municipal building, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe presented a grand medal symbolizing the city to internationally renowned Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
Ceylan, speaking at the ceremony, said art was the best language for the countries to understand each other well, noting that "Turkey Season" in France would contribute to relations between Turkey and France.
Ceylan said he had first visited France 30 years ago when he was a student. "I had no money. I had to stay in parks and train stations when I first came to Paris. Life is very strange. I would not believe it if they had told me I would be decorated with this medal," he said. "During my visits to Paris, the museums, architectural structure and statues of the city were my first education in the history of art."
Referring to the support of French cinema, particularly to artistic films and joint projects, Ceylan also thanked French distribution company Pyramide, which markets his films abroad, adding that the Cannes Film Festival was one of the cornerstones in his career.
Delanoe said they appreciated Ceylan's films and described him as "a contemporary and very big genius."
He recalled that Turkey was an honorary guest at the Paris Cinema Festival and noted that Turkey was an indispensable country on the continent, with its rich culture.
Rejecting the views of French President Nicolas Sarkozy about Turkey’s European Union membership, Delanoe said, "Doors should not be closed to Turkey, but they should be open." He said that Turkey's contribution to the construction of Europe was necessary.
Award symbolizing Paris
The award, which was given for the first time in 1911 by the city of Paris, is presented to people who make artistic contributions to the people of the city.
This year, the city of Paris organized a special section for Turkish filmmaker Ceylan, who won the best director award for his film "Üç Maymun" (Three Monkeys) in the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.
Due to the "Turkey Season" in France project, Turkey is the country of honor at the 7th Paris Cinema International Film Festival that started July 2. Ceylan’s film "İklimler" (Climates) was screened early this week. Ceylan answered cinema lovers’ questions after the film. A selection from his other films will be screened during the festival.
Forty long and short feature films from Turkey will be screened in the festival in special categories, such as Turkish scientific films and films from Germany-born Turkish directors. There will also be special nights for directors such as Reha Erdem and Yeşim Ustaoğlu. Semih Kaplanoğlu and Pelin Esmer are among the Turkish directors whose films will meet audiences during the festival, which will end July 13 with U.S. film "Taking Woodstock."
There will be more than 300 films in the festival. In the competition section of the festival, 12 films, chosen from 1,028 films, are competing for the jury prize and public prize. Also, 17 films chosen from 1,007 are competing for the short film prize. Famous artists Claudia Cardinale and Jean-Pierre Leaud will be given special prizes in the festival.