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Turkish director's triumph at Cannes feted back home

By AFP RelaxNewsMovies - 26 May 2014 9:00 AM | Updated 11:28 AM

Turkish director's triumph at Cannes feted back home

Turkey on Sunday celebrated the Cannes film festival success of Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, with the media hailing him for dedicating his Palme d'Or to victims of his country's political strife.

Ceylan won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival Saturday for his epic drama 'Winter Sleep' and dedicated the award to the Turkish "youth who lost their lives" in anti-government protests that have rocked Turkey over the last year.

"Great honour," headlined Posta newspaper.

"The best news in months!," Sozcu newspaper wrote on its website, saying that the director had not "forgotten" to pay tribute to those who died.

"This beautiful and lonely country is proud of you," Hurriyet newspaper wrote, referring to a previous acceptance speech by Ceylan, who dedicated his best director award in the 2008 Cannes Film Festival to "my beautiful and lonely country, which I love passionately".

Meanwhile, in a phone call after the award, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip "Erdogan congratulated Ceylan for making the nation proud one more time," his office said in a statement.

Ceylan's dedication of the award comes at a time of renewed tensions across the country with the approach of the first anniversary of deadly nationwide anti-government protests and in the wake of a mine disaster that claimed 301 lives earlier this month.

Eight people died in the unrest that erupted in 2013 when police cracked down on a peaceful campaign to save a small Istanbul park from redevelopment.

Two more people died last week when police clashed with demonstrators commemorating the death of a teenage boy from injuries sustained during last year's unrest and protesting over the mining accident -- the country's worst ever industrial disaster.

Speaking at a press conference in Cannes last week, where he wore black ribbons to honour the workers who died in the mine in the Turkish town of Soma, Ceylan expressed his regret that no government official had so far stepped down over the disaster.

"In Japan, when someone dies (in an industrial accident), someone resignes. In Turkey this is not the case. I don't know why, perhaps it is a cultural difference," he said.

Thousands took to Twitter since Saturday night to thank the director for the good news after days of mourning in Turkey.

"Thank you Nuri Bilge Ceylan for the good news that we need so much but get rarely," wrote a user calling herself Melinka.

"We can at last be happy... Thanks to Nuri Bilge Ceylan and the whole film crew," movie critic Omur Gedik wrote.

'Winter Sleep' marked the first top prize win at the world's biggest cinema showcase for Turkey since 1982, when 'Yol' by Yilmaz Guney shared the gong with 'Missing' by Costa Gavras.

"A historical day for the Turkish cinema after 32 years," wrote Milliyet daily.

Ceylan had already won awards at Cannes for his previous films 'Uzak', 'Climates', 'Three Monkeys' and 'Once Upon a Time in Anatolia'.