‘About Dry Grasses’ Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan Says His 3-Hour-Plus Epic Could Have Been Longer – Cannes

‘About Dry Grasses’ Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan Says His 3-Hour-Plus Epic Could Have Been Longer – Cannes

May 21, 2023

When is time not on the side of any Cannes film premiere?

Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s About Dry Grasses, which had its world premiere Friday night, follows the middle-class melancholy of a Turkish rural village art teacher, clocks in at 3 hours and 17 minutes. So far, the movie is one of few weighing in at the 3-hour-plus stretch; the other, premiering Saturday, being Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon at 3 hours and 26 minutes.

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However, Ceylan said today at the his film’s Cannes press conference that he could have made his snow-laden epic so much longer.

“The film could have continued on for a very long time,” Ceylan told the press.

About Dry Glasses follows Samet, whose school is an area where there’s essentially two seasons: snow and yellow grass. In his humdrum existence, he becomes fascinated by a young female student, Sevim, who he tries to mentor; that backfires after he’s accused of touching her. However, it’s Samet’s female colleague, an English teacher named Nuray, who helps him to regain a perspective after he feels all is lost to gloom.

Talking about the ending, Ceylan explained, “The bird flies away at the end, and I had the impression that he (Samet) has a new perspective on the region where he lives.”

Talking about returning to a snowy remote environ again after his 2014 Palme d’Or winning Winter Sleep, Ceylan explained,For the main character, it was necessary to be someplace isolated because happiness can be achieved wherever you are — that’s at least what people think.”

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“In fact, if you’re not happy in life, you always say you’re happy to go someplace else. Even people in situations think they’d be happier elsewhere.”

“They also think the place where they live is responsible for them being unhappy,” the director added.

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On ending his movie where he did, Ceylan said it boiled down to his gut.

“I preferred to end the film in this matter without using sequels,” the director said, “I had the impression when we were editing that something emerged and I wanted to end the film at that point.”

Last year’s Palme d’Or winner, Triangle of Sadness by Ruben Östlund, timed in at 2 hours and 27 minutes — long by U.S. standards for a satirical comedy. The movie earned three Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture. At the box office, it grossed just $4.6 million in North America and more than $25M worldwide.

About Dry Grasses reps Ceylan’s seventh time in competition at Cannes.

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