The thin curtain of steam rising from the floor of a traditional Istanbul hamam (steam bath) provides an apt symbol for a film concerned with the permeable boundaries between nations, cultures and people. A Turkish director and longtime resident of Italy (frequently featured in our annual Open Roads: New Italian Cinema series), Ferzan Ozpetek burst on the international scene with Steam: The Turkish Bath. Francesco, a young Italian designer with a rocky marriage, discovers that an aunt whom he’d never met has left him property in Istanbul in her will. That property turns out to be a hamam, and although Francesco at first plans to sell it, the building, the city and a budding sexual attraction soon make him reconsider. Even in this, his debut feature, Ozpetek shows his consummate skill directing actors: he gets an especially impressive performance from Alessandro Gassman (son of Vittorio) as Francesco, who in small, delicate ways shows us all the changes through which his character is living.
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