F.: Lukas Gnaiger. M.: Christoph Loidl, Andrew Bird. Mus.: Judit Varga. Int.: Yilmaz Güney, Michael Haneke, Costa-Gavras, Tahir Yüksel, Gilles Jacob, Donat Keusch, Hüseyin Tabak, Elif Güney Pütün, Jack Lang, Tarik Akan. Prod.: Mehmet Aktaş, Mîtosfilm, Aichholzer, Filmproduktion, MarangozFilm. DCP. D.: 122’. Col.
As the name bestowed upon him by the masses (“the ugly king”) signifies, Yılmaz Güney was a legendary figure who put his mark on world cinema with the films he scripted, directed and acted in for over two decades. And thirt-four years after his death, he is still regarded as an idol in Turkey for his work and political beliefs. In The Legend of the Ugly King, German-Kurdish director Hüseyin Tabak explores the legacy of this mythic hero. It is an exquisite documentary homage, as well as a personal journey for the director.
The film begins with Güney’s Cannes triumph in 1982, and slowly makes its way back to five different countries to interview Güney’s surviving collaborators, cellmates and family. The investigative trajectory also involves Tabak’s mentor Michael Haneke and Costa-Gavras, who shared the Golden Palm at Cannes with Güney. All these different perspectives provide a manifold portrait of a passionate personality full of vision and creativity, but also imperfections and contradictions. Tabak’s investigation brings the human and vulnerable Yılmaz Güney to the surface, going beyond the legend.
Completed in seven years, the documentary provides a rich biographical portrait that sheds light on the life, artistic sensibilities and worldview of a great filmmaker. It is a heartfelt homage to a man whose relentless integrity and creativity inspire to this day.