FNE at Cannes 2023: Competition: About Dry Grasses

    About Dry Grasses by Nuri Bilge Ceylan About Dry Grasses by Nuri Bilge Ceylan source: Cannes FF Press Materials

    CANNES: Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has become a Cannes regular since his film Uzak (Distant) won the Cannes Grand Prix in 2003. Since then he has racked up prizes in Cannes that include Best Director for his 2008 Three Monkeys, the Grand Prix for his 2011 Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and the Palme d’Or for his Winter Sleep in 2014.

    His new film About Dry Grasses screens in the main competition in Cannes and it certainly looks like it is a leading contender for adding to his string of Cannes prizes. Like all Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s films it is visually breathtakingly beautiful. The opening sequence alone is deserving of a prize for its beauty.

    The film takes place mostly in a snow covered landscape in a remote village in Anatolia and the director uses the snowy images and landscape to full advantage. The story follows Samet, a young art teacher, played by Deni̇z Celi̇loğlu, who is finishing his fourth year of compulsory teaching at a school in a remote village. He dreams of finishing his service and escaping back to the city. His best friend and colleague Kenan, played by Musab Eki̇ci̇, is also his roommate who he shares his thoughts and his frustrations with, and his desire to move on. Kenan is a local and doesn’t fully understand Samet’s desire to escape the village.

    Samet photographs village life as an outlet for his frustrations and Nuri Bilge Ceyhan makes full use of these still photos that Samet takes to bring the beauty of the landscape and the village life into focus.

    But the relationship between Samet and Kenan changes when they meet Nuray, played by Merve Dizdar, another young teacher. Both men compete for her attentions and the situation looks like it will break up their friendship.

    Meanwhile Samet, who is popular with most of the students, runs into a major problem with one of the girls in his class that he likes and has a close relationship with. While at first the young girl hangs around Samet and clearly has a crush on him, she turns against him when she feels let down by him and he is reported to the education authorities because of her accusations against him. 

    At first Nuray seems to prefer Kenan and a relationship grows up between them but in the end out of jealousy Samet goes to Nuray’s home for dinner and sleeps with her. He achieves this by a rather underhanded trick telling Nuray he has invited Kenan to also come along to the dinner but in fact he has never told Kenan about the dinner invitation.

    But after Samet’s seduction of Nuray the relationship between the three teachers takes an unexpected turn as Nuray comes to the home of Samet and Kenan and confronts them with their relationship with her and tells them she is free to sleep with and have a friendship or relationship with anyone she pleases and that she is no one’s possession.

    In the end we move from the snow scenes of winter to a spring and summer where the three friends continue their relationship and Samet continues with his inner dialogue about life.

    This is a master work by a master director in his prime and it will be a surprise if it does not bring Nuri Bilge Ceylan further kudos and prizes at this year’s festival.

    About Dry Grassses (Turkey, France, Gremany)
    Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
    Cast: Deni̇z Celi̇loğlu, Merve Di̇zdar, Musab Eki̇ci̇, Ece Bağci, Erdem Şenocak, Yüksel Aksu, Müni̇r Can Ci̇ndoruk, Onur Berk Arslanoğlu, Yildirim Gücük, Cengi̇z Bozkurt, S. Emrah Özdemi̇r, Eli̇f Ürse, Eli̇t Andaç Çam, Nalan Kuruçi̇m, Ferhat Akgün, Eylem Canpolat