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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 Raşit Çelikezer at Istanbul Film Festival


Raşit Çelikezer director of Can, one of the movies in the National Competition section, talks about his movie and his excitement about the competition. Can premiered in Sundance in the “World Cinema” section as the first Turkish movie screened in the festival. Can is about problems of a couple, who cannot have children, and their distress in parenting to a child, who is not their own.

- Your film is in the competition for the first time… How does it feel to compete in Istanbul Film Festival?

Istanbul Film Festival is the festival I cared about the most in Turkey as it is the festival that helped make my mind to be a film-maker. It is so important for me to be on screen rather than in the audience and express my feelings.

- What did you think when you heard about the National Competition films?

It’s quite exciting. I already know half of the competition films. And I find the selection quite rich. Diverse expressions found their way in the selection.

- Your daughter inspired you for the movie? How did she affect you?

Something you read or something you experienced can set you in motion sometimes. The story took shape during the process with my daughter... Observing her touch to the outer world, to nature and my state as a father shaped the story slowly. In a story I read years ago, a kid was left alone in the public out of necessity. I started thinking about the subtext. Later on, perspective and contribution of my wife as a woman shaped the story. Therefore, this is not the story of a few years, there is a long process beneath it.

- We can even claim that this process is so long that it helped you observe “masculinity” issue in the community.

It is one of the main issues of the movie.
My parents are workers, and we are originally from Macedonia. When I was born, my family were trying to adapt to Turkey together with the whole worker class. Therefore, I observed the male oppression within the system just as it is in Can. Then I went to where I spent my childhood and I realized that the situation is pretty much the same there. I have written many pieces for theatre for years and I have worked on similar issues. All of them came together and composed Can.

- Your film utilizes melodrama codes. Therefore, as result of the Yeşilçam tradition it may be familiar for the audience in Istanbul. But you got the Special Jury Prize in Sundance. What was the reaction to your movie abroad?

I intentionally used melodramatic elements in the film. Of course, Sundance does not know about Yeşilçam. However, they told me that they learned a lot from the movie, especially about the country itself. In the reasoned decision for the prize, they announced that they awarded the expression, feeling and structure in the film. They found the editing quite powerful and thought that the story is told through an artistic vision. We had to explain to the audience there that adoption is generally not that hard in Turkey and that this is an extreme example. Generally, they do not know about Turkey. They think Turkey is a desert where we use camels for transportation. By the way, I learned a lot from Sundance too: problems of independent productions, supports, not feeling alone as a film-maker, and how a festival is organised... It was quite motivating.
Ceyda Aşar

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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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