Films & Schedules

  • Pandora's Box
    Pandoranin Kutusu

  • Yeşim Ustaoğlu

112 minutes

Production Company:
Ustaoğlu Film Yapim/Silkroad Production/ Les Petites Lumières/ Stromboli Pictures/The Match Factory
Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Muhammet Çakiral, Serkan Çakarer, Behrooz Hashemian, Setareh Farsi, Natacha Devillers, Catherine Burniaux, Michael Weber, Tobias Pausinger
Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Selma Kaygusuz
Production Designer:
H.F. Farsi, Elif Taşçioğlu, Serdar Yilmaz
Jacques Besse
Franck Nakache
Bernd Von Bassevitz
Jean-Pierre Mas
Principal Cast: Tsilla Chelton, Derya Alabora, Onur Unsal, Övül Avkiran, Osamn Sonant

International Sales Agent:
The Match Factory

Saturday September 0605:45PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Tuesday September 0903:00PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1203:15PM VARSITY 3 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

“Pandora's Box is a story of alienation and isolation. It is a story of individuals whose lives have been shaped by a sterile, middle-class morality, a story that many people touched by the inevitable combination of capitalism and modernity can identify with. It is a kind of human landscape, both universal and singular at the same time…”

– Yeşim Ustaoğlu, director of Pandora's Box

Like many films in the Festival this year, Turkish director Yeşim Ustaoğlu's Pandora's Box is concerned with the curse of modernity. As simple lives begin to give way to the hum and glamour of an industrialized, globalized lifestyle, a Pandora's box inevitably opens.

Ustaoğlu tells the story of an estranged family – two sisters, Nesrin and Güzin, and a brother, Mehmet – who live their comfortable, preoccupied lives in Istanbul. When the siblings find out that their elderly mother, Nusret, has gone missing, they return to their small coastal hometown to find her. As the group journeys through the countryside, they realize that they are strangers in their own land – as ignorant to the ancient Turkish countryside as they are to each other. Most of all, however, they have become alienated from themselves, their dreams distracted by prejudice, nihilism and lazy concessions to the status quo. What starts out as a begrudging trip to find their mother turns into a voyage of self-discovery for the threesome, a poetic reordering of their psyches as the reality of the world around them is reflected back onto themselves.

Ustaoğlu's visual style mimics the dual nature of this journey, with sweeping panoramas of Turkish landscapes that mirror the characters' inner worlds. There is a rich sense of authenticity that firmly grounds the film's cerebral themes in reality. The film plays with several paradoxes, not the least the fact that communication is easiest between the very old and the young. Nusret's own children cannot comprehend her emotions, but her grandson, Murat, can: he and his grandmother reach a state of mutual understanding through a profoundly touching display of affection that finally bonds them. Ustaoğlu keeps an unwavering eye on the drama unfolding in this family, using them as a potent metaphor for all the unsightliness – and hope – she sees promised in the modern world.

Dimitri Eipides

Yesin Ustaoğlu was born in Turkey. She directed the documentary short Life on Their Shoulders in 2004, and has directed a number of feature films, including The Trace (94), Journey to the Sun (99), which won the Blue Angel Award for Best European Film and the Peace Film Award at the 1999 Berlin Film Festival, Waiting for the Clouds (04) and Pandora's Box (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award