About Dried Grasses, by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, or the loss of ideals


More than ten years after his Palme d’or for Winter Sleep, the filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, more than half of whose films screened at Cannes have gone away with an award, is back In Compétition with Kuru Otlar Ustune (About Dried Grasses). This new drama set in an isolated village in Anatolia is the opportunity for this figurehead of Turkish cinema to continue his patient and meticulous painting of his home country.

Samet (Deniz Celiloglu) is a young teacher in Eastern Anatolia. While waiting several years for a transfer to Istanbul, a series of events make him lose all hope. Until the day he meets Nuray (Merve Dizdar), a young teacher like him…

In Uzak, winner of the Grand Prix of the Festival and of two acting awards at Cannes in 2003, a cultivated and urbanite photographer begrudgingly plays host to his unemployed cousin from the countryside. About Dried Grasses seems to go in the opposite direction of this multi-award winning film by turning an idealistic urbanite into an intruder in a rural and austere region. There, ambitions fade, ideals turn into disillusions and prejudices add to the feeling of exclusion.

“Such a subject offers the possibility of depicting events and scenes that invite one to reflect on certain fundamental concepts, like good and evil, individualism and collectivism, which, in our country, have always constituted dichotomies.”

For Nuri Bilge Ceylan, writing and directing this story was the opportunity to take stock both of the despair of the inhabitants of isolated regions and of the issues pertaining to education in Turkey.