After the 35th Istanbul Film Festival
The 35th Istanbul Film Festival ended on Monday, 18 April with the additional screenings. 187 feature, 10 short, and 24 experimental films by 223 directors from 62 countries were shown in 501 screenings across 10 movie theatres over a period of 11 days at the festival, which was attended by over 90.000 cinephiles. The festival offered a full menu to everyone’s satisfaction with 6 festival talks, a master class, 1 workshop, 2 panel discussions, and 2 concerts.
The 35th Istanbul Film Festival was realised thanks to the generous support of the Festival Sponsor Akbank, along with the Theme Sponsors Anadolu Efes, Sabah daily, atv, NTV, TLC, and Nescafé Gold. Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism gave great support to the festival, while the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Beyoğlu Municipality, Kadıköy Municipality and Maltepe Municipality, continued their publicity support. In 2016, the guests of the Istanbul Film Festival were transferred by Renault. The festival was realised also thanks to the supports of Limits Off and organisational support of bluechip Creative Events for the Award Ceremony. For all festivals by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, the Leading Sponsor is the Eczacıbaşı Group, Official Communications Sponsor Vodafone Turkey, Official Carrier DHL Worldwide Express, Official Accommodation Sponsor The Marmara Collection, Insurance Sponsor Zurich Sigorta, Health Sponsor Memorial Health Group, and the service sponsors are Navitas, GFK, directComn, and AGC.
The Istanbul Film Festival reintroduced another masterpiece of the Turkish cinema to the modern viewers in the section Special Screening: Turkish Classics Revisited, run under the special screening sponsorship of Groupama for nine years now. The film Sürü (The Herd, 1978), written by Yılmaz Güney and directed by Zeki Ökten, starring Tarık Akan, Melike Demirağ, and Tuncel Kurtiz, was restored by Atlas Post Production and 38 years after its production it returned to the silver screen, coinciding with the 80th birthday of Tuncel Kurtiz.
Festival’s Cinema Honorary Awards and Special Prize
At the festival’s award ceremony, Yeşilçam’s “most beloved jezebel” character, Suzan Avcı, producer of numerous major features, including Vurun Kahpeye and Vesikalı Yarim, Şeref Gür, character actress Perran Kutman who has made generations of audiences laugh throughout her career spanning 50 years, and actress/voice actress Jeyan Ayral Tözüm who has voiced great Yeşilçam stars such as Türkan Şoray, Filiz Akın, and Fatma Girik during her career of more than 60 years, were presented the Istanbul Film Festival Cinema Honorary Awards. The Cinema Honorary Award bestowed upon Ülkü Erakalın, who passed away just before the start of the festival and who was one of Yeşilçam’s most prolific directors with over 200 films to his credit, was presented to his son Murat Erakalın. The awards were presented by Hülya Koçyiğit, Fatoş Güney, Murathan Mungan, Türkan Şoray, and Türker İnanoğlu.
Also, a special award was conferred on Türker İnanoğlu in the 60th year of his career for his contribution to the Turkish cinema with nearly 80 films to his credit as a director, and numerous TV and cinema films as producer.
A most distinguished figure of the Turkish cinema, Türker İnanoğlu had also received the festival’s Cinema Honorary Award back in 1999.
Special Sections in the Festival
The 35th Istanbul Film Festival maintained its classic sections such as the Akbank Galas, Challenging the Years, From the World of Festivals, Young Masters, Documentary Time with NTV, Mined Zone, Antidepressant, Kids’ Menu, and Midnight Madness in its 35th edition, with the addition of sections special to this year.
The Istanbul Film Festival paid tribute to one of the most authentic, most independent, and most creative directors of all times, Otto Preminger, on the 30th anniversary of his death, with a retrospective section comprising 10 of his outstanding films. The master graphic designer Yurdaer Altıntaş, who had prepared posters for many of the Istanbul Film Festival’s sections and events in earlier editions, designed a special poster for the Otto Preminger: Anatomy of a Director section, too.
Another one of the festival’s special sections was Hidden Gems, curated by Alkan Avcıoğlu. In this section, 4 films that are little-known in cinema history, that were banned, lost, left unscreened for years, or which did not receive the acknowledgement they deserve were finally unearthed and presented to the cinephiles on the silver screen.
With a view to opening a well-deserved space for experimental cinema, the Istanbul Film Festival went back to the beginnings of this special genre and gathered the works of pioneering figures of American avant-garde film. The section In Pursuit of Light: American Avantgarde Cinema of the 70s featured these films screened in their original 16mm format at the Istanbul Modern Cinema.
The Musicians section offered 8 films that tell the stories of people who have made music an inseparable part of their lives.
Festival Spread out across Istanbul This Year
The Istanbul Film Festival screenings spread out on both sides of the city this year. On 16 and 17 April, which was the final weekend of the festival, a special selection of films are screened at the Hoca Ahmet Yesevi Cultural Centre in Sultangazi and the Türkan Saylan Cultural Centre in Maltepe. Festival’s National Golden Tulip Competition Winner Dust Cloth is screened in both venues.
A supporter of independent movie theatres since its inception, the 35th Istanbul Film Festival was hosted at Atlas, Beyoğlu, Fitaş movie theatres, Akbank Sanat, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Feriye movie theatre in Ortaköy, Rexx movie theatre in Kadıköy, and the Istanbul Modern Cinema in Tophane.
The Istanbul Film Festival hosted many guests from abroad this year as ever. In the 11 days from the opening to the closing of the festival, actors Tom Vermeir, Stacy Martin, Lior Ashkenazy, Ghalia Benali, Niki Karimi, Oscar-winning producer Ewa Puszczynska, directors Pablo Agüero, Rodrigo Plá, Philippe Lesage, Mai Masri, Tomasz Wasilewski, Anca Damian, Ciro Guerra, Carlos Hagerman, Lucile Hadzihalilovic were some of the celebrated figures who visited Istanbul.
Out of the 501 screenings in the festival, 100 were held with the participation of the films’ directors, actors, screenwriters and/or producers, who introduced their films before the screening and answered the questions from the audience afterwards.
Among the nearly 250 guests who came from abroad to attend the Istanbul Film Festival were also representatives of international film festivals, including the Sundance, Thessaloniki, Batumi, Goteborg, Sarajevo, Belgrad, Torino, Locarno, La Rochelle, Rotterdam, Amsterdam World, Tallinn, Odessa, Karlovy Vary, Les Arcs and Nuremberg film festivals.
Interviews were conducted this year too with directors whose films were in the International Golden Tulip Competition, National Competition, and the National Documentary Competition. Film critic Erman Ata Uncu interviewed the directors in the International Golden Tulip Competition, while the directors in the National Golden Tulip and National Documentary Competitions were interviewed on video in cooperation with the students of the Okan University Fine Arts Faculty Department of Cinema & TV.
The 35th İstanbul Film Festival had an intense schedule not only of film screenings, but also with talks, panel discussions, and master classes. The institutions and organizations that supported the 35th Istanbul Film Festival with high contribution were given gratitude plaques at a banquet at The Marmara Raika Restaurant on the evening of 11 April, Monday. The festival’s traditional Bosphorus cruise with all guests was made this year as well.
Chris Fujiwara, author of The World and Its Double: The Life and Work of Otto Preminger, and film critic Nil Kural talked about Preminger’s works and cinematic approach at the Boğaziçi University Mithat Alam Film Centre.
In the talk where Burak Çevik, who curated the section In Pursuit of Light, and curator/art historian Herb Shellenberger discussed the American Avant-Garde cinema of the 70s, it was emphasized that the characteristic of the artists and the American film/video culture of the 70’s that distinguished it from other periods was the form and ideas that were used. Film critic and scriptwriter Burak Göral held a workshop, entitled Guide to Selecting Films for Children, in which he explained the issues of concern when selecting films for children to watch and recommended films according to age groups. International Golden Tulip jury member, video artist Ali Kazma and independent curator Mari Spirito came together at the Pera Museum, where they examined the interaction between video art and the world, based on Ali Kazma’s works.
One of the events in the festival was the panel discussion held at the Beyoğlu Movie Theatre after the screening of the documentary Only Blockbusters Left Alive, which sheds light on the monopoly of the film distribution sector in Turkey and its consequences. The panel was moderated by Cem Erciyes, with the director of the film Kaan Müjdeci, film critics Evrim Kaya and Şenay Aydemir, director Onur Ünlü, producers Serkan Çakarer and Yamaç Okur, German distributor Torsten Frehse, producer Funda Alp, and economist Mustafa Sönmez as panellists. With film critic and academician Melis Behlil as moderator, Fire at Sea director Gianfranco Rosi and Lampedusa in Winter director Jakob Brossmann held a discussion entitled, How are Moments of Historical Transition Reverberated on Film? Both filmmakers expressed their wish for films to generate new questions instead of answering them, but said that their actual aim in making documentary films was to stop what is happening.
A recipient of the 35th Istanbul Film Festival’s Cinema Honorary Award, Suzan Avcı came together with author/poet Murathan Mungan for a pleasant festival talk. Making a mark on the Turkish cinema history with the roles she acted in the heydays of Yeşilçam, Suzan Avcı talked of her career from its very beginning on.
Documentarians Necati Sönmez, Reyan Tuvi, and Can Candan came together to discuss the state of documentary filmmaking in Turkey. Moderated by SİYAD (Film Critics’ Association of Turkey) Chairman Tül Akbal, the panel tackled a range of issues encountered by documentary film, including difficulties with funding, film production, exhibition, and distribution.
Pushing the boundaries of Tuareg music, a guest of the festival with the film Rain the Color of Blue With A Little Red In It, musician M’dou Moctar gave festivalgoers an unforgettable concert at Salon IKSV.
The screening of Leyla Bouzid’s debut feature film As I Open My Eyes was held as part of the festival’s “Musicians” section and attended by the film’s actress Tunisian musician Ghalia Benali. Benali gave a memorable concert at Salon IKSV with a huge Tunisian following among the audience.
Meetings on the Bridge
In its 11th edition, the Meetings on the Bridge, held within the scope of the Istanbul Film Festival, continued to bring producers, directors, scriptwriters, and institution representatives from Turkey and abroad together and to create opportunities for new feature film projects to have their first international presentations. The Meetings on the Bridge allowed for project owners to meet with representatives from Eurimages, Gaumont, Locarno Film Festival, 4 Proof Film, Tandem Production, Script House, A.S.A.P. Films, International Thessalonica Film Festival, Jerusalem Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival, Detailfilm, Goteborg Film Festival, Fidmarseille, OneTwoFilms, House of Netherhorror, Pantaflix, Bulgarian National Film Centre, CE Media Bulgaria Desk, Sundance Film Festival, Fantasia Film Festival, Film Independent, Global Media Makers, Lava Films, Gamechanger Films, Picture Tree International, Film Center Serbia, BadCrowd, ConceptStudio, Dokufest, Mer Film, Interfilm Production Studio, International Venice Film Festival, Ramonda Inc., Swedish Film Institute, Rialto World Cinema Amsterdam, Revolver Amsterdam, Connecting Cottbus, Artviva, Memento Films International, 10:15 Productions, The Story Bay, Level K, Twenty Twenty Visions, Holland Film Meeting, Versatile, The Match Factory, and Batum International Art Films Festival.
For the first time in its 11th edition, with the support of Anadolu Efes, the Meetings on the Bridge also hosted a training programme by international trainers and filmmakers that comprised lectures and group works on the subjects of script, production, marketing, and distribution.
10 projects were chosen for the Film Development Workshop this year, and 5 films for the Work in Progress Workshop. The Neighbours platform, launched last year, invited again projects and film professionals from the neighbouring countries with a view to preparing the ground for individuals and institutions to cooperate.
A total of 10 events, comprising 1 workshop, 2 panels, and 7 cinema lectures, were held within the scope of the Meetings on the Bridge. The programme provided interactive information on a wide range of topics, including Festivals and Distribution, Genre Approach, Women Make Films, Creative Producing, Virtual Reality, and Script Advising.
The Istanbul Film Festival will return again next year in April.