Thursday, April 12
Between life and death: Halef
Halef from the section “National Competition” was screened at Atlas Sineması with the participation of the director Murat Düzgünoğlu and the film crew. Düzgünoğlu shared that he wrote the script together with Melik Saraçoğlu, and explained: “I was going through a difficult and distressful period of my life. So, I wanted to write about my personal experience. I put together a few stories and told Melik about it. We established a framework for the story but after a while that framework was unable to sustain the story. We’ve created many different versions of the screenplay.” Saraçoğlu said that co-writing a screenplay together is a highly creative process: “Writing by yourself can be very challenging sometimes, but when you write with someone conflicting ideas help you improve and you begin to see the problems you weren’t able to see by yourself because you were too immersed into it. Murat and I followed a disciplined workpath. We didn’t argue much but mostly came to an agreement.” Düzgünoğlu also shared that Halef is a real person, that he knows him for nearly 20 years: “There are some important questions for human beings: God, death, the fear of death, the unbearableness of life, the desire to believe in an afterlife… We tried to convey these ideas from a completely different aspect, though reincarnation. What resources do we need to maintain this life? How does the question of death become bearable?”
Zeynep Gülru Keçeciler: “Afghanistan is a very difficult land”
Zavar, the Kid and the Partridges from “National Documentary Competition” was screened with the participation of the director, Zeynep Gülru Keçeciler, and the director of photography, Ahmet Hamdi Ferah. The film shows the Afghan traditions through the lives of a 60-something man, Zavar, living in a mountain village in northern Afghanistan, and 9-year-old Rezak. Director Keçeciler said that the shooting took 55 days and explained why: “Afghanistan is a very difficult land. It’s been in a state of conflict and war for the past 41 years. In northern Afghanistan Turkish identity is recognised but the safety measures were quite tight. We’ve been working in Afghanistan since 2010 so we’re familiar with the geography and the culture.” Ahmet Hamdi Ferah said: “There’s a security issue in Afghanistan. There’s the ISIS, and also Taliban. It was better when we went there in 2012. The threat of ISIS emerged in 2017. We weren’t able to shoot in some villages. You are able to pass through some areas only at some designated hours.” Director Keçeciler also answered a question as to why they showed so little about women in the film: “It’s not easy to film a woman in Afghanistan. Even so, a lot of films were made about Afghan women, and we wanted to tell the lives of men. In Afghanistan it’s not difficult only to be a woman but to be a human being in general.”
Aslı Özge: “To understand the human psyche: Cries and Whispers”
The screening of Cries and Whispers took place at Beyoğlu Sineması with director Aslı Özge presenting the screening: “It’s very good that it is a full house for a Bergman film. He influenced directors with not just this film but with all of his films. This film’s distinguishing feature is its color. I saw it when I was studying cinema at the university. The planes dominated by the color red and where the women stand out dressed in white and the fact that the costumes, placement and everything within the frame have been carefully designed had left a strong impression on me at the time. We realise that not only the content but the form also matters so much in cinema. This film has contributed so much to my cinema and helped it arrive at its current place. I also have a personal connection with this film. I had just lost my mother to cancer when I first saw the film. There’s an ill woman in the film as well. When all of this came together, I think it made me feel closer to film. It is, in my opinion, one of the cruelest films to understand the human psyche.”
A story of love and loss…
Handle with Care from “Best of the Fests” was screened at Cinemaximum City’s Nişantaşı with the participation of the director Arild Andresen. The film centers on the story of a father who is trying to bond with his son after his wife’s death. The director said: “This film is about mourning, of course, but it actually points to the miscommunication between parents and their kids. I’m a father myself and I have two little children. Although it is wonderful, being a father is a difficult job. I wanted to look into the difficult, tiresome, exhausting aspects of parenting. I did a lot of research on the process of adoption. When you adopt, there are many unknown things about the child and you may not be able to always understand these kids. The character in the film also struggles a lot with this. This is a story of a father and a son, a story of love and loss.”
On humans’ relationship with nature…
Istanbul Film Festival and Arter collaborated for a program that covers the entire production process of artist Ali Mahmut Demirel, known for his experimental video works, live performances of visual design and music videos. His exhibition “The Island” will be meeting the viewers until July 15 at Arter. The films that inspired the three videos of the exhibition, namely Stalker, The Well, and The Last of England, are being screened at the Istanbul Film Festival under the section called “Architectural Utopias – Cinematic Dystopias”.
The screening of The Well took place at Pera Museum Auditorium with the participation of the artist. Ali Mahmut Demirel said: “I’m not a cinema artist. My latest video works are post-apocalyptic works that observe architectural places. There are no people in them. There’s a post-apocalyptic scenario where the human race has been completely erased from the earth. The exhibition consists of three videos. One of them is about a water cistern that I filmed in Bodrum. Apparently, when the dome collapsed, it turned into some sort of a well and was abandoned. I observed life there after people had left. And I made a video work after observing the relationship between nature and space with my camera. Then I called it The Well, as a reference to Metin Erksan’s film The Well. Besides the cinematography, there’s also a metaphorical relationship between this film and my work. In my video, I mostly focus on humanity and the relationship between human beings and nature. The film tells a story of a man and a woman. I think there’s a parallel between this relationship and the relationship between human beings and nature.” Demirel also mentioned that there will be an exhibition tour at Arter on Sunday, April 15.
Another event took place last night as part of the section “Architectural Utopias – Cinematic Dystopias” at Salon IKSV. Selected scenes from Metin Erksan’s film The Well were projected on the screen and artist Ali Mahmut Demirel with Berliner musician-DJ Carlota Marques delivered a live performance based on the scenes.
“Beşiktaş is my everything”
Süreyya the Kitman from the section “National Documentary Competition” was screened at Pera Museum Auditorium with the participation of the director Gökçe Kaan Demirkıran, participants of the film Vedat Özdemiroğlu and Metin Tekin, and the kit manager of Beşiktaş’s football team, Süreyya Tekin, who became the inspiration for this film. Demirkan said that the film took six years to complete and added: “Everyone knows Süreyya. I’m surprised that no film had ever been made before about him. That’s why I went and found him. He also has experience in Turkish Cinema. I was already making documentary films about urban culture and urban sociology, so I made this film.” Süreyya Soner also commented: “Beşiktaş is my everything. When I saw the film, I wondered if I was really watching myself. When we first began the documentary, we were three people. I was shocked to see it turned out this way.”
A Metaphor for Life: 9 Fingers
9 Fingers from “Mined Zone” was screened at Cinemaximum City’s Nişantaşı with lead actor Paul Hamy. The actor answered the questions from the audience after the screening: “In order to prepare for the film, you need to work collaboratively with the director and the other actors. There’s no one single method for preparation either. Some films can be more historical, others are more on the intellectual side or sometimes they’re more aesthetic. You develop different methods for each of them. That’s one of the good things about filmmaking: learning new things all the time. The director F. J. Ossang actually made this one as a noir film; it’s a metaphor for life.”
Following Judge Gruwez…
So Help Me God from “No More Flowers” was screened at Beyoğlu Sineması with the participation of one of the directors, Yves Hinant. The documentary observes Judge Anne Gruwez from Brussels as she sees one case after another, and offers a tragicomic panorama of the judiciary system of Belgium. Following the screening, Hinant answered the questions from the audience. She said that the shooting took three years and added: “If you pick really good characters and a really good story, a film can be made. The story is formed in time. I know Ms Judge in the film for 12 years. We’ve filmed nearly 200 trials and selected the best ones. Ms Judge’s comment on the film was: “pure reality”. Yves Hinant answered a question about the accused whose faces are seen in the film: “We’ve signed release forms with everyone in the film. It’s not right to show them from behind. They have a right to show who they are. Hiding them would have been worse.”
Andrei Cretulescu: “I’ve been carrying this story in me for a very long time”
Charleston from the section “Young Masters” was screened with the participation of the director Andrei Cretulescu. Charleston follows the story of a man who has lost his wife in a car accident and is trying to cope with this loss together with his wife’s lover. Cretulescu talked about the starting point of the film: “I’ve actually been carrying this story in me for a very long time. The starting point was the fact that my mother had left my father for another man when I was a child. And she came back. Then I asked her: ‘Okay, you fell in love with another man and left. But why did you come back?’ She answered: ‘I loved your father too much.’ I asked myself if a woman could love two men at the same time. That’s how Charleston came about.” Cretulescu also commented on the soundtrack of the film: “I used the songs that I liked and that also could mean something in the film and outside of it. You know, in Romanian films music is not used that much. At the most, there’s a song during the end credits. Everyone said ‘You’re crazy; you can’t make a film with so much music’. But I preferred it that way. We use this aspect of the film in the promotion process of the film in Romania as well.”
Tolga Karaçelik: “I began to write this film when I lost my uncle”
Butterflies from the section “National Competition” was screened at Atlas Sineması with the participation of the director Tolga Karaçelik and the film crew. Director Karaçelik talked about the film which is quite humorous: “I began to write this film when I lost my uncle. His name was Mazhar. Writing was a kind of therapy for me. When I was writing and filming I wanted people to be happy and smile. I wanted people to leave the theater with joy.” One of the actors Tuğçe Altuğ told the film’s Sundance journey: “Sundance is a very important festival. We were welcomed very warmly. There were people from the audience who had seen [Tolga’s previous films] Toll Booth and Ivy. They asked about those films as well. They liked the film very much, they were laughing at every joke. It was a good experience for us.” Another actor, Tolga Tekin, commented: “I enjoyed it a lot. The script was good. We supported each other and always nudged each other as well. As a result, the film is enjoyed by everyone.”
Meetings on the Bridge:
Coproduction: “Almost like a marriage…”
Yesterday at Meetings on the Bridge coproduction processes were discussed in detail. The participants, producer Funda Ödemiş, Selin Vatansever and Serkan Çakarer shared examples from the coproduction projects that they’ve almost finished; and screenwriter and producer Emine Yıldırım moderated the talk.
Selin Vatansever said that they’re trying to finish Ali Vatansever’s first feature film, Pure, and added that filmmakers get the chance to meet co-producers at film development platforms, and that they’re still working with the Romanian producers that they had met at Meetings on the Bridge in 2016: “It took a longer time to come to an agreement with our German producer; we had to pursue him. What’s important is that we have a producer we can get on with.”
“Co-productions are almost like a marriage with children,” said Serkan Çakarer and added that they’ve been working on the project Seen for four years now: “Sometimes a co-production can be necessary but your producer should care about making the film as much as you do. This co-production model should be working for everyone. For example, a co-production project won’t work with a director who is not open to comments or won’t make any changes in the script either.”
Funda Ödemiş said that the funding should be done in Turkey first: “We waited for two years for the film Brothers to be funded in Turkey. You have to be very patient. Then it was fairly easy to find our German producers but your co-producers should be as excited as you are. You have to create very well the balance between the creative crew.”
The participants shared that it is hard to maintain their lives as producers in Turkey, but that it is possible to survive by creating good works and that they don’t do their jobs just to make money.
Narration in VR
One of the Meetings on the Bridge events of yesterday, “VR Experience: Thinking in a Different Format” took place with the participation of director and producer Carlos Hagerman, Timelooper’s Production Manager İlker Çevikkaya, and Müge Özen from Solis Film. Hagerman said that VR experience is different than watching a film: “With VR, you’re there; you’re part of that universe.” He also explained that the fictional narration in VR can be divided into three parts: “The first is the invisible person. You put the audience in such a place that everything happens around him. Another form of narration is that you put the audience in a specific place where everyone can see him. In this narrative form, you are not invisible but part of the narration. And the third is the dreamlike narration. It looks like half dream, half real; and you don’t understand very well the rules of the world you’re experiencing.”
The session continued with the participants watching two VR films that Carlos Hagerman made. Then they shared their experiences, and discussed the subjective and non-subjective parts of the narration. Hagerman also highlighted the importance of the sound and the sound design in creating the imagined universe: “In VR, you create the space with sound as well. That’s why it’s important to watch these films with a good sound system. Then the participants carried out a VR film shooting trial supervised by Müge Özen, İlker Çevikkaya and Carlos Hagerman. They discussed where the camera should be placed, how to create a scene and how to shoot it. The participants had the opportunity to edit and watch this trial shoot while talking about the VR format.