Humankind’s time on Earth has is coming to end. As the planet dies nations prepare fleets to flee to nearby Mars. One of the last holdouts is the Grand Turkish Republic. The president refuses to okay the evacuation until he has one last proper meal, a chicken schnitzel. Problem is, chickens have been extinct for 200 years. Kamil, the president’s chief assistant, is tasked with finding a meal that does not exist.
When the short starts with the standard fictional character disclaimer then adds on to the bottom ‘But everyone is free to draw their own conclusions’ you get the idea that filmmakers Ismet Kurtulus and Kaan Arici have something to say other than just taking an opportunity to make a comedic short laced with sci-fi elements. It isn’t that their work suffers for it either. Far from it. Though they have a message in there they neatly blend in sci fi elements while utilizing interesting infrastructure around Copenhagen, Denmark to create their future world.
The comedy in The Last Schnitzel comes across brilliantly in its subtlety. While the film boasts the acting talent of one Haluk Bilginer as the President it is Sevket Süha Tezel (also in Can Evrenol’s brilliant Baskin) playing Kamil who steals the show and makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his country. For it is he and Sadik the Parliamentary Intern (Ahmet Kursat Ocalan) who must navigate political channels to try to find some chicken to schnitzelize.
Here is a fun fact. Because The Last Schnitzel is pretty much a satirical commentary on the state of Turkey from the past decade, and especially because it pokes fun at an executive president, the filmmakers were denied a license from the Istanbul Copyright and Cinema Directorate to screen it in their homeland. Even after that committee requested changes to the film in order to meet their ‘requirements’ the filmmakers refused to budge and took the hit instead of watering down their film and message.
Kurtulus and Arici must also be feeling like a pair of goddamned prophets right now after the recent G20 Summit exposed just how much another infamous world leader was more or less ignored by the rest that weekend. U.S. presidents do not like being left out of anything, be it on film, or in real life.
The Last Schnitzel plays today in the INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE-FICTION SHORT FILM SHOWCASE 2017 at the Fantasia International Film Festival.
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