Returning to Cannes with his first film in five years, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s About Dry Grasses earned a Best Actress prize for Merve Dizdar. (At 3 hours and 17 minutes it was somehow not the longest film in competition, though, thanks to Wang Bing.) The film follows the young art teacher Samet “who is finishing his fourth year of compulsory service in a remote village in Anatolia. After a turn of events he can hardly make sense of, he loses his hopes of escaping the grim life he seems to be stuck in. Will his encounter with Nuray, herself a teacher, help him overcome his angst?” After this month’s Oscar-qualifying run, Janus-Sideshow will begin unrolling About Dry Grasses on February 23, 2024, ahead of which there’s a U.S. trailer.

Rory O’Connor was impressed with the film at Cannes, writing, “It’s a hallmark of Ceylan’s artistry that those exchanges are as strongly staged as they are dramatic. Here as in another of the director’s Anatolia-set dramas, Winter Sleep, conversations are the bedrock. But no chat is equal; each carries its own import and demands its distinct visual set-up, depending on how strong a challenge they mount against Samet, or the kind of impact these words have on him. This isn’t a conversation so much as a battle, and the director stages it like so. One of the greatest mysteries behind Ceylan’s cinema is how his talk-heavy sprawls manage to escape the aloofness of the chamber dramas they so often unspool as. Grasses is another scintillating example of that paradox, a film in which chats do not unfurl so much as detonate.”

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