Pera Museum is one of the main venues for the 15th Istanbul Biennale “a good neighbour”. Pera Film’s program, A Place Called Home, formed within the curators Elmgreen and Dragset’s notion of home: “deals with multiple notions of home and neighborhoods, exploring how living modes in our private spheres have changed throughout the past decades. Home is approached as an indicator of diverse identities and a vehicle for self-expression, and neighborhood as a micro-universe exemplifying some of the challenges we face in terms of co-existence today.” A Place Called Home brings together films depicting the intricate relationships and stories that people have with their homes. Independent of whether they are from America, Europe or Turkey, people share very similar fates. Urban gentrifications and economic crises are most often what forced them to confront dramatic ordeals. Some live under the threat of their neighbors, some experience hardships with the people they live under the same roof, and ultimately these stories, as the biennial, invite one to think about what a “good neighbor” could really mean.
Not only does the necessity for shelter strike us, but also the humane need for belonging and the fear of losing one’s home… these form the common ground for Pera Film’s A Place Called Home program.
La Soledad | Jorge Thielen Armand, 2016
José, a young father living a poverty-stricken life in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, has taken refuge in a house with his family. When the family that they have been employed by for generations put the building they have all been living in up for sale due to economic reasons, José and his family are forced to build a new life for themselves. A country’s social atmosphere is materialized in the metaphor of a building that is about to be torn down, and the struggles of a family that is holding onto the past and to each other are at times embarked on as though under a poetic spell and every so often with the reality of a documentary approach. Jorge Thielen Armand’s first film, which is inspired by real-life events, also features real residents of the neighborhood the film takes place in.
99 Homes | Ramin Bahrani, 2014
Dennis is a young father and construction worker living with his mother and son in Orlando, one of the most sun-drenched cities in Florida. One day, a real estate agent named Rick Carver knocks on their door and, much like the hundreds of thousands people who felt the impact of the economic crisis most severely, they find out that they are being evicted. After hopelessly and shamefully doing what he was told, Dennis is given an opportunity: to work for Rick Carver. Depicting the hypocritical life of a man who chooses to place other people in his own difficult situation in order to save his own life and family, the movie 99 Homes brings acclaimed actors Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon and Laura Dern together.
Leviathan | Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014
Kolya and his family live an ordinary life in a seaside town by the Barents Sea in Russia. Kolya has a nice house and a repair shop on the small piece of land he owns. When the corrupt mayor of the town expresses his intentions to confiscate his land and demolish everything on it, Kolya invites a friend, who is a lawyer from Moscow, to his home. As the war that the pair set off against the fraudulent mayor and the system wages on, new layers of the corrupt system reveal themselves and everything becomes more troubling and intense. One of the critical directors of contemporary Russian cinema, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan was nominated for an Oscar in the category of “Best Foreign Language Film.”
Eastern Boys | Robin Campillo, 2013
Daniel is a businessman in his 50s, living a well-to-do life in Paris. One day, after securing his anonymity and gathering his courage, he invites Marek, one of the hundreds of boys who come or are brought to Paris from various countries in Eastern Europe for prostitution, to his home. The following day, someone knocks on Daniel’s door again, but this time Marek is not alone. Eastern Boys is about a desperate man’s confrontation with his own consciousness, his fears as he falls into the trap of a stranger who is invited to his personal space and inner world. Director Robin Campillo won the Grand Jury Prize in this year’s Cannes Film Festival with his new film, 120 BPM.
Particle | Erdem Tepegöz, 2012
Zeynep with her mother and daughter, is trying to survive in a rundown apartment located in the streets of Tarlabaşı, a neighbourhood with abandoned buildings waiting to be victimized by urban gentrification. Taking up the space of a tiny particle in the universe, Zeynep is a woman, a worker, and a mother. The camera never ceases to follow her, thereby we watch Zeynep as she strives to find a job after getting fired, as she tries to keep her family together, and as she struggles in dark alleys and workplaces. The film taunts us with the claustrophobic and often ignored aspects of the city we live in, and intensifies with Jale Arıkan’s powerful performance.
The Queen of Versailles | Lauren Greenfield, 2012
With eight children, the Siegels, a billionaire family lives the perfect American dream, with luxury and consumption. Until everything starts to go wrong… As the Siegels are busy with the construction of their new home, inspired by the Palace of Versailles and historicized as the most expensive family home in American history, renowned photographer Lauren Greenfield decides to document this process. The director, eventually depicts a grand downfall in the most realistic sense, but has no clue about the impending economic crisis that will take place during the shoot of this documentary. Amusingly, Jackie Siegel has no intention of lowering her lifestyle standards or reducing her expenditures! Witnessing history as it happens, The Queen of Versailles is an astonishing and entertaining documentary.
Home | Ursula Meier, 2008
A family with three children has been living a serene life in their small home located next to a highway that has been unutilized since it was built ten years ago. One day, an unforeseen event occurs, and the highway is opened to traffic. The perpetual flow of cars and its noise overturn the order of this family that has been living in seclusion for years. The day-to-day lives they have built for themselves topple over. Bringing together the masters of European Cinema, Isabelle Huppert and Olivier Gourmet, Home is the first feature-length movie from the documentarian Ursula Meier.
Grey Gardens | Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles & Muffie Meyer, 1975
Edith Bouvier Beale and Edith Bouvier Beale, or Edie and “Little Edie…” The eighty year-old mother and her middle-aged daughter, who live together and yet in opposition to each other in their secluded and decaying mansion, are none other than USA’s sensational first-lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s aunt and cousin. When Maysles Brothers visited the mother and daughter at their East Hampton mansion called Grey Gardens, where they lived intimately with their cats and raccoons, the brothers decided to document the eccentric lifestyle of the women. These two extraordinary women, who often end up in quarrels or interrupt each other, prove that a level of insanity is necessary to continue living in a house that is in such physical decline.
Straw Dogs | Sam Peckinpah, 1971
David Sumner is an astrophysicist who is tired of his life in the USA and his country’s violent tendencies. These are the reasons behind his and his British wife’s decision to move to England. They are forced to move into their new home as it is still under construction and their worst nightmare comes true. David and Amy are bullied and assaulted first by the construction workers, then by their neighbors, and the home they relocated in order to feel safe becomes a target and setting for blood-soaked conflicts. Straw Dogs, starring Dustin Hoffman, was nominated for an Oscar in the “Best Original Music” category.