Set in a tight-knit community that seems to only experience two seasons, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s masterfully character-driven return to the screen probes into power dynamics and the darkest regions of the human soul.

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Centrepiece

About Dry Grasses

Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Middle-aged Samet (Deniz Celiloglu) is a quick-witted and quick-to-anger elementary school art teacher–cum–amateur photographer in a traditional village who dreams of a posting in his native Istanbul. He shares lodging with his more attractive and likeable colleague Kenan (Musab Ekici) and spends his nihilistic days developing an inappropriate fixation on 14-year-old teacher’s pet Sevim (played by the scene-stealing Ece Bagci). When a love note written by Sevim is confiscated in a school-wide search, Samet’s rotten-to-the-core fantasies grow. Meanwhile, Sevim, who suspects her teacher of stealing the letter, makes her heightened discomfort with his behaviour known to the school authorities and an investigation is launched. Enter Nuray (Merve Dizdar, TIFF ’22’s Snow and the Bear), a fellow teacher whose past political activism has rendered her disabled, allowing her to choose postings anywhere in the state — just the escape Samet needs. The only problem is that Nuray seems to favour Kenan.

About Dry Grasses is a film laden with longing. Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s characteristically novelistic approach cradles the lurid drama through the peaks and valleys of Eastern Turkey. While Samet blurs the lines between what’s expected and acceptable, we are in the hands of a master filmmaker (a Palme d’Or winner for his 2014 film Winter Sleep) who captures the full picture in his lens, and whose observation of power dynamics leads us through a tale as old as time in a way that few would dare.

DOROTA LECH

Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival

Luminaries The latest from the world’s most influential art-house filmmakers. A designated subsection of films within Centrepiece, Wavelengths, and TIFF Docs sections.

Screenings

Thu Sep 07

Scotiabank 8

Press
8:40am
Wed Sep 13

TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Regular
5:00pm
Fri Sep 15

Scotiabank 2

Regular
7:30pm