The Films for Youngsters at İstanbul Film Festival


I always get very excited at these times of the year as Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) announces the program of the Istanbul Film Festival and posts the festival booklets to its members. As I am still an old fashioned girl, I prefer searching the films in between the pages and marking the ones I would like to watch with a pencil.

Initiated by İKSV as a film week in 1982, the Istanbul Film Festival has since become the most extensive film event in Turkey. The festival prepares to leave its mark on the city one more time this year as it celebrates its 35th year, between 7 and 17 April. The festival hosts a total of 221 films by 223 directors from 62 countries, there will be talks with guest filmmakers, panel discussions, concerts, and other special events.

When my sister Nilifer visited me last weekend, we were talking about my favourite films of this year. She asked me which ones would be appropriate for his 13 year old son, Emre and I had absolutely no idea!

Yes, there is a section called Kid’s Menu in the festival, however, there are only two movies which I assumed that suitable for the younger kids.

After my sister left, I have taken the liberty to contact Ms. Gülce Şahin / IKSV Membership Programme Associate and asked her if it is possible to have assistance on this very subject.

She was wonderful and responded less than 24 hours with a brilliant list advised by the lovely film festival committee for the youngters! I would love to extend millions of thanks to all of them for taking time to reply my question and also for being so dear and sincere as I am sure that this is the most hectic time of the year for the film festival committee.

Since I had such a great list from the very first hands, I thought it would be nice to share it as there might be many others looking for suitable films for their teens.

HEAVENLY NOMADIC *From ‘International Competition’

The remotest mountains of Kyrgyzstan… Old horse herder Tabyldy lives on these mountains with his family: his wife Karachach, his daughter-in-law Shaiyr, and her seven-year-old daughter Umsunai. Shaiyr´s husband has drowned in a river years ago. Her son goes to school in the city and only comes to visit on holidays. As life goes on routinely on the mountains, middle aged meteorologist Ermek arrives. This development causes a major shift in the family´s life. Mirlan Abdykalykov´s first film, which debuted to rave reviews at Karlovy Vary Film Festival, and was Kyrgyzstan´s Oscar nominee, is a lyrical portrait of fading traditions.

FAMILY FILM *From ‘International Competition’


Showered in praise in every festival, this Czech film brings a breath of fresh air to the family in crisis stories. Irena and Igor have no clue about the things to come when they embark on a sailing holiday leaving their two teenaged children at home. They think that they would be informed about everything that takes place at home with the help of video calls and other technological assistance. However, things are about to get messy both at home and the sea. Young director Olmo Omerzu masterfully plays with audience expectations both in terms of style and content in her second feature. Full of surprises in every turn, Family Film features a praiseworthy performance by a canine actor as well.

LITTLE MEN *From ‘From ‘The World of Festivals’

13-year-old Jake moves with his family into an apartment in Brooklyn which they inherited from their grandfather. The apartment comes with a small shop down below, and the tenant´s son Tony is the first person in this new neighbourhood Jake communicates with. The two teenagers become fast friends. They have similar interests and shared dreams. Jake wants to be a painter and Tony wants to become an actor. However, the dispute between their parents about a rent contract will test their friendship. Written and directed by Ira Sachs of Keep the Lights On fame, Little Men is a modest yet memorable drama which reminds the viewer those special adolescent friendships.

THE BLACK HEN *From ‘Young Masters’

Nepalese Civil War, 2001… Despite coming from different castes, the inseparable duo of 12-year-olds Prakash and Kiran is saving up to buy what they dream of. They plan on making money by selling the eggs of the hen they look after, but things go awry when the hen goes missing. The quest they embark on to find the hen makes the viewers witness the political and social conditions of Nepal at the time. An important step in Nepalese cinema, The Black Hen is successful short filmmaker Min Bahadur Bham´s debut feature. The director shot the film in his home village in Northern Nepal.

DE PALMA *From ‘Documentary Time with NTV’ (if she/he is a real cinephile!)

Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Scarface, Body Double, The Untouchables, Carlito´s Way, Femme Fatale… An exciting look at the idiosyncratic cinema of the living legend, Brian De Palma. The director, who differs from his peers with his extraordinary career, sits with Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow and candidly discusses his 29 features, shorts, and fell through projects. Scenes from his inimitable films accompany the conversation that ranges from the secrets of his mind-blowing mise-en-scène, to anecdotes from his sets, and film theory. De Palma is a riveting documentary that will not only embrace cinéphiles and the director´s fans, but also audiences who are unfamiliar with his work.

THE NEW KID *From ‘Antidepressant’

Benoit is the “new kid” at school. He has to face constant bullying from other kids. He swears not to put up with it anymore and decides to form his own gang with other bullied kids like him. This new team aspires to be the baddest gang in school. The directorial debut of French actor Rudi Rosenberg tells the amusing story of a group of underdogs and the hierarchy they have to fight against at school.

ADAMA *From ‘Kid’s Menu’

12-year-old Adama lives in a tiny village surrounded by mountains in West Africa. When his brother Samba suddenly disappears, without hesitation, Adama hits the road to look for him. The road takes him all the way to Europe, but it is a pivotal time in history since it is 1914. Adama reaches the battlefront. His goal is to set his brother free. However, the course of the journey seems to be completely altered. Simon Rouby´s film, which was nominated for the Best Animation Award at European Film Awards, is the story of a poetic journey crumpled by reality.


From her castle, young Sophie can´t resist the temptation of the forbidden and what she loves most of all is to get up to no-good with her cousin Paul. When her parents decide to go to America, Sophie is delighted. A year later, she´s back in France with her horrible stepmother, Madame Fichini. But Sophie will be able to count on her two friends, model little girls, and their mother, Madame de Fleurville to escape from her stepmother´s clutches. Adapted from a book written in 1850 by Comtesse de Segur will provide our young audiences with ample laughter.

URBAN HYMN * From ‘Musicians’


Backdropped by the 2011 London riots, Urban Hymn is the sentimental and moving story of a mother-daughter bond formed between two women. Kate, a middle-class sociology lecturer who leaves her job to work with at-risk youth, and Jamie, a musically talented 17-year-old outcast, become slow friends. Michael Caton-Jones (Scandal,) tells a touching story about solidarity highlighted with music in Urban Hymn. The chemistry between veteran Shirley Henderson as Kate and newcomer Letitia Wright as Jamie is noteworthy.


The Music of Strangers, which focuses on The Silk Road Ensemble, renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma´s project of intercultural dialogue through music, showcases the diversity of the ensemble which gained in importance after 9/11 and features musicians who come from different traditions and various countries from Turkey to Syria to Spain. Directed by Morgan Neville, who received the Best Documentary Oscar for his music documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, makes the audience part of the musicians´ encouraging collaboration through tradition and cultural change.


He was one of the 9 siblings, who would gather around their mother when the TV set broke and sang to keep themselves entertained. When he grew up, he became “the greatest entertainer of all times” as he always dreamed of. But, the prices he had to pay trying to reach that dream were always overlooked. What does Off the Wall–the precursor to Thriller, the biggest selling album of time–mean to the music industry? Director Spike Lee tells the origin story of Michael Jackson with commentary from many celebrated names. This is the story of the phoenix´s take off. The phoenix that broke away from his father and brothers, graduated from the “university of Motown,” spread his wings with help from Quincy Jones and “didn´t stop ´til he got enough.”