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Istanbul Film Festival

The largest, most established and most influential film event in Turkey, the Istanbul Film Festival has over the past 30 years, presented Istanbul audiences with a total of more than 3,250 films, showcasing the cinema of 103 countries, and attracting a total audience number of 3,150,000. With an audience of 150,000 in 2011, it is also considered the biggest Turkish film festival. Established in 1982 as a film week, and accredited by FIAPF in 1989, the Festival aims at encouraging the development of cinema in Turkey and promoting films of quality in the Turkish market. As such, the Festival incorporates the Meetings on the Bridge platform, and within the frame of this programme, a competitive Feature Film Project Development Workshop that was initiated in 2008, and a Work-in-Progress sidebar in order to support the Turkish film industry and Turkish film professionals. In 2015, the MoB began to accept submissions from neighbouring countries.

The Istanbul Film Festival features an International Competition (limited to films on arts and the artist or literary adaptations) with a monetary award of a total of €25,000 as its grand prize the Golden Tulip. Showcasing Turkish cinema as the most active promotional, international platform in Turkey, the Festival features a National Competition, A National Documentary Competition, and a Human Rights in Cinema competition endorsed by the Council of Europe. The festival each year screens around 200 feature films, and takes place in April.



Interview with director Umit Unal at Istanbul Film Festival (8/4/2012)

Ümit Ünal, who competes for the Golden Tulip in the National
Competition selection at Istanbul Film Festival, returns to films confined to a single space with The Pomegranate as he did in 9 and Ara. He fits justice, beliefs, injustice, fantastic elements, a surprising screenplay, revenge, and change into this small space.

The Pomegranate will be screened on Sunday, April 8 at 13.30 at Atlas Sineması.
Interview: Ceyda Aşar


- Your films 9, Ara and The Pomegranate comprise
a trilogy. The films are set in a single space due to financial
difficulties. Do you think that these three movies have common thematic
and inherent elements?

In 9 we started from the idea that “We don’t have money, so what can we
do?” I made use of the same idea in Ara. I returned to this idea last
year with The Pomegranate. The question “How can I cut the budget?” was
important. The common elements between the films came along in time.
This wasn’t something I thought of before. The similarity between
styles, which gave up everything as much as possible from actors to
space and discarded what is redundant, brought an integrity to the
themes. The number of actors was low; however the film was dependent on
strong acting and theme as well as twists in the plot.

- When we look into the story, it is clear that Ara originates from you and your observations of your environment, and the characters are shaped accordingly. Does The Pomegranate have a personal memory or issue that sets you in action?
Stories emerge out of thousands of things you observed in years. Even a
film, which seems far away from you, can carry autobiographical
characteristics. The house of the transvestites in Istanbul Tales was
the home I stayed at when I first came to Istanbul. The character, Mimi,
was our neighbour. The relationship in The Pomegranate is
similar to what I experienced in my relationships. All the characters
resemble someone I know or they are the composition of some people I
know. However, the general issue of The Pomegranate has always occupied
my mind. Loss of justice and people living with the feeling of being
treated unfairly... This is something I have been thinking about for the
last 10 years.

- Justice was also the topic of 9.
Yes, within this perspective, the three films have another thing in
common. They all try to look at the whole country from a confined space
and they all have socially consicous messages. The Pomegranate
does not have the message as explicit as others. It is more hidden. 9 is
the film which presents the message most explicitly. The Pomegranate,
somehow in disguise, begins as if it is a more mysterious and mystical
film. Orhan Pamuk talks about this in his book The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist. He states that if the novel has a centre, it has to be something hidden at first. This is exactly what I tried to do in The Pomegranate.

- If we were to speak specifically on The Pomegranate, do you
have any issues regarding the medical law and state’s inability to
provide security in health?

I needed a situation, which requires a regular person taking revenge,
for the story. The important thing was to create an unfair situation and
an extremely innocent victim. Revealing medical scandals wasn’t my
thing. I did not conduct a deep research on the issue. But news on
disabled and dead people due to mistreatment or failed surgeries drew my

- What do you think: Does a low-budget film limit you or liberate you?
Low-budget films allow you huge freedom. You become satisfied with what
you do and you can reply any questions. In high-budget films, those who
invest in the film also plan to earn their money back, therefore they
begin interfering with the creative elements.

- You competed in the International Istanbul Film Festival earlier and won awards. How does it feel to compete today?
My first film 9 was awarded the Best Film. Istanbul Tales was also awarded the Best Film. Ara
was awarded with the Special Jury Prize. Many actors in my films were
given Best Actor and Best Actress awards. Being the only true
international festival in Turkey is the most important characteristic of
this festival. Antalya is important for the local film industry also
considering its history... Premiering at the Istanbul Film Festival is
also important for reaching foreign critics and distributors.

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About Istanbul Film Festival

The most comprehensive and oldest international film festival in Turkey. Established in 1982, it screens more than 200 films of various genres, and has an extensive Turkish features showcase. The Golden Tulip Grand Prize of the Festival has a monetary award attached.



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