The Two Faces Of January directed by Hossein Amini (UK/USA/France) 2014 is the opening night film of the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival. The film, based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith set primarily in Greece and Turkey, will screen Thursday 24 April 2014 at the Castro Theatre.


Four of the eleven narrative features competing for the 2014 New Directors Prize are: The Blue Wave directed by Zeynep Dadak and Merve Kayan (Turkey/Germany/Netherlands/Greece) 2013, The Dune directed by Yossi Aviram (France/Israel) 2013, Salvation Army directed by Abdellah Taïa (Morocco) 2013, and South Is Nothing directed by Fabio Mollo, (Italy/France) 2013.

Other narrative features are: Abuse Of Weakness directed by Catherine Breillat (France/Belgium/Germany) 2013, Chinese Puzzle directed by Cédric Klapisch (France/USA) 2013, Eastern Boys directed by Robin Campillo (France) 2013), If You Don’t I Will directed by Sophie Filliéres (France) 2013, Tip Top directed by Serge Bozon (France/Belgim/Luxembourg) 2013, Tonnerre directed by Guillaume Brac (France) 2013, The Trip To Italy directed by Michael Winterbottom (UK/Italy) 2014, Young And Beautiful directed by François Ozon (France 2013), and Yves Saint Laurent directed by Jalil Lespert (France) 2013.

Documentary features include: Agnès Varda: From Here To There directed by Agnès Varda (France) 2013, Coast Of Death directed by Lois Patiño (Spain) 2013, and School Of Babel directed by Julie Bertuccelli (France) 2013.

Contact San Francisco Film Society for more information and tickets.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved



Istanbul Art Fairs

Istanbul hosted two international art fairs this month. ArtInternational (16 – 18 September 2013) was a new event in the city featuring contemporary art. Over sixty galleries from Turkey, the Middle East, Europe and the US participated. 4 – 5,00 attended on the opening day. And at the close of the fair an estimated € 21,000,000 in sales to collectors was reported.


Challenges this year included the Gezi Park protests in June that began with opposition to construction of a mall that would eliminate one of the few public spaces in the heart of Istanbul. These soon spread to other parts of the country and broadened to include complaints about Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies that secularists claimed were limiting personal freedom and moving the country in a more religiously conservative direction.

Fulya Erdemci, curator of the 13th Istanbul Biennial (14 September – 20 October 2013), decided to embrace the controversy rather than ignore the situation. The theme for this year’s events Mom, Am I Barbarian? focuses on the place of public art in society. All exhibitions are free but the biennial will not install art in public spaces.

More information about ArtInternational and Istanbul Biennial online.

copyright © 2013 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved



The 56th annual San Francisco International Film Festival runs 25 April to 9 May 2013. Included are more than three-dozen films produced or set in Croatia, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, and Spain. Most of these are dramatic features, a few are shorts, and three are documentaries. Programs will take place at eight venues in San Francisco and one in Berkeley.


Among the ten films competing for the New Directors Prize are: Habi, the Foreigner directed by María Florencia Álvarez, Argentina/Brazil 2013; Present Tense directed by Belmin Sölyemez, Turkey 2012; La Sirga directed by William Vega, Colombia/France/Mexico 2012; and Youth directed by Justine Malle, France 2012.

Before Midnight directed by Richard Linklater, USA 2012 is set in Greece. This is a sequel to Before Sunrise, USA 1995. The new film screens Thursday 9 May 2013, 7:00 PM at the Castro Theatre followed by the closing night party 9:00 PM to 12:00 AM at Ruby Skye. Wednesday 8 May 2013 the director will take part in A Conversation With Richard Linklater 6:00 PM at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.

For more information and tickets see the San Francisco Film Society web site.

copyright © 2013 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

For Ahmet Yildiz

Zenne Dancer directed by Caner Alper and Mehmet Binay (Turkey) 2011 is based on a tragic true story.

Can evades military service by hiding at his aunt’s apartment in Istanbul, performing as a male belly dancer and barely eking a living as a fortuneteller.

Ahmet is a university student under surveillance by his tormented mother who is obsessed with cleaning.

Daniel is a German photographer attempting to escape his troubled past.

The three men become friends, helping each other to achieve their full potential. But the stakes are high and the consequences serious.

The film screens Saturday afternoon 23 June 2012 at the Victoria Theater during Frameline 36. Tickets and information available at Frameline.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Hot Kebab

Mixed Kebab directed by Guy Lee Thys (Belgium/Turkey) 2012 is a fast-paced drama set in Antwerp. Bram, a handsome, young, gay Belgium man of Turkish descent faces numerous challenges in his pursuit of a love relationship with Kevin. His young brother Furkan, however, is becoming a thug.

Traditional family expectations clash with modern mores. Many of the issues currently dividing Europeans play out in the course of the narrative. Despite the obstacles faced, the future remains hopeful.

It screens Thursday night 14 June 2012 at the Castro Theatre during Frameline 36. Tickets and information available at Frameline.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Frameline 36

The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival runs from 14 – 24 June 2012 at the Castro Theatre, Roxie Theater, and Victoria Theatre in San Francisco as well as the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley. It is the oldest running LGBT film festival in the world.

One of the eight showcase films this year is Bye Bye Blondie directed by Virgina Despentes  (France) 2011. World features include: Let My People Go (France) 2011, Mixed Kebab (Turkey) 2012, Unforgivable (France) 2011, and Zenne Dancer (Turkey) 2012. Also a documentary, The Invisible Men (Israel) 2012.

More information is available at Frameline.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

The Great Disaster

Paradise Lost by Giles Milton, Basic Books, 2008 begins with a list of characters divided into six categories: British, Levantine, American, Greek, Turkish, Armenian. It recounts the tragic story leading up to and following the destruction of Smyrna and the deaths of thousands in 1922. Milton takes an unbiased, balanced approach as he chronicles the horrific events, relying on the personal diaries of survivors for an eyewitness account of the final days.

Neither the Greeks nor the Turks, the principal players involved, can claim innocence in the matter. And both the British and Americans failed to intervene with the exception of one man whose actions saved countless lives among the myriads of desperate people attempting to escape the final conflagration.

At the end of World War I, Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, was occupied by British forces because the Port was on the losing side. The major European powers were eager to seize control of major parts of the empire. The Treaty of Sèvres promised the Greek Kingdom Smyrna and a considerable portion of land surrounding the port city in Asia Minor.

However, the Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos and his followers, along with British Prime Minister David Lloyd George promoted the Great Idea: the conquest of Constantinople. The Greek Army seemed to be succeeding until Mustafa Kemal rallied an affective fighting force to repel the invaders and drive them back to the sea.

Twice A Stranger by Bruce Clark, Harvard University Press, 2006 presents the personal stories of some of the survivors and their descendents were uprooted from their homes and the lands where generations of their family lived during the population exchange in 1923. About 400,000 Muslims were forcibly moved from Greece to Turkey and 1.2 million Greeks from Turkey were resettled in Greece.

After peace between the two nations was restored, a few of the exiles and/or their children managed to visit the places where they once lived and still longed for but none were allowed to remain there permanently. They talk about the initial hardships they faced as refugees among their coreligionists and recount tearful reunions with their former neighbors years and decades later. The book humanizes and gives witness to a sad episode of nearly forgotten Mediterranean history.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved