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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.



IFF APRIL 08, 2011

photo still from film, THE TURIN HORSE (2011)

• IRANIAN REVOLUTION AFTER 30 YEARS Iranian-born director Rafi Pitts’s latest film Hunter questions the Iranian Revolution 30 years after its beginning through Ali, who finds familial bliss after being released from jail but whose happiness is quickly destroyed. Pitts will attend the screening at 11.00 in Atlas and answer questions.

• ART COMES OUT OF WASTE LAND Waste Land, which won the Amnesty Award and the Panorama–Audience Award in the Berlin Film Festival last year, will be screened at 13.30 in Fitaş 1. Critics define Waste Land as the “Slumdog Millionaire” of documentaries, an inspiring, touching crowd-pleaser. Director Lucy Walker will attend the screening of the film. Another Walker documentary, Countdown to Zero, which talks about the nuclear threat, is also in the Festival line-up.

• ‘YOUNG MASTER’ KADİR BALCI Ghent-born Turkish director Kadir Balcı’s feature debut film Turquaze, is a somewhat autobiographical story of a Turkish family that comes to Ghent, Belgium, and socializing with the city’s locals, starts a life of its own. Cheerful, romantic and, at the same time, somber, the film’s screening will take place at 13.30 in Nişantaşı City’s. Director Balcı will also attend the screening.

• THE DOCUMENTARY THAT TREMBLED ITALY The documentary which started a discussion when, in its first screening at the Cannes Film Festival, the Italian Minister of Culture protested France, Draquila – Italy Trembles will be screened at 19.00 in Fitaş 1. The film’s director Sabina Guzzanti will also attend the screening.

• ADDITIONAL SCREENING FOR THE TURIN HORSE The Turin Horse, whose tickets were sold out the day they went on sale, became one of the Festival’s most talked-about films. An additional screening for the film will take place in Beyoğlu at 16.00. Do not miss this last masterpiece from Béla Tarr, who had influenced contemporary independent filmmakers with his works and approach!

• THE UNBEARABLE HEAVINESS OF MAKING FILMS IN IRAN Iranian-born director Rafi Pitts answered questions from the audience following the screening of his latest film Hunter in Atlas Movie Theater. Hunter questions the Iranian Revolution 30 years after its start through Ali, who finds familial bliss after being released from jail but whose happiness is quickly destroyed. Pitts said his film could not be exhibited in Iran unfortunately. He added, “Because I make films that contrast with the government. Making this film was difficult enough. Moreover, it takes six months to receive permission for the script only. You need to go to the ministry for six months.” Pitts received his permission before the elections and those that gave him the permission were dismissed from their jobs after the elections. “And they thought some things could change in Iran.” It was due to censure that Pitts ended up in the leading role: “Besides the script, permits needed to be obtained for everyone from actors to cameraman. If you were to change the name of one person, you had to wait for another six months. When, on the first day of filming, the actor thought he could not make this film, the film ceased to have a leading actor. I ended up having to play the part.” Pitts said he wanted to depict a country on the verge of eruption: “How could I know that soon there would be fights and that streets would be in turmoil? This is why the film became a powerful clash with real life.” Asked how many revolutions would be needed for his film to be shown in Iran, Pitts said, “I hope I will not be too old by then,” adding, “The behavior towards Cafer Panahi is both ridiculous and sad. As filmmakers, we only think about the truth. We occupy ourselves only about humanity. We hold a mirror to the society. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about those that look into that mirror and find themselves ugly.”


• WASTE LAND THAT ASKS QUESTIONS Director Lucy Walker attended the screening of one of the Festival’s most popular documentaries, Waste Land. Another Walker documentary, Countdown to Zero, was also shown during the Festival. She said that, as a director, she liked asking questions. “What will happen when we help these people? What will happen if we intervene? There is a scene where Vik Muniz, his assistant and his wife get together and talk. I am happy that I shot that scene and included it in the film. This way, the film also asks the questions they ask during their conversation. Some things changed after the film; associations were established, I was nominated for the Academy Awards and I brought one of the waste collectors with me. Are these not stunning changes for both these people and for Brazil?”

• TURQUAZE WAS IN TURKEY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE FESTIVAL Ghent-born Turkish director Kadir Balcı’s was in Istanbul for the screening of his feature debut. The screening, which was also attended by actress Tilbe Saran, was received with interest. Balcı’s film, which tells the story of a Turkish family that comes to Ghent, Belgium, and socializing with the city’s locals, starts a life of its own, has autobiographical elements. The director said he was very excited about this first screening of his film in Turkey. He said the “first generation Turks” were those that were born in Turkey and immigrated to Germany, and that they did not have a sense of belonging, whereas the “second generation” was born there and could adopt much easier to Germany. Tilbe Saran said the script she had read was different from the film that resulted from it but that the film was much better.


• THE FILM THAT SHOOK ITALY The documentary which started a discussion when, in its first screening at the Cannes Film Festival, the Italian Minister of Culture protested France, Draquila – Italy Trembles, depicts how the Berlusconi government used the earthquake in Aquila in 2009 to improve its public image. Attending the screening, director Sabina Guzzanti said the film had a shocking affect among audiences. “Because it showed what was not much discussed. Italians were disappointed because it gave them information other than those shown on televisions. Some people even said they wished for an earthquake so they could have a house. The government was planning on issuing a law about earthquakes but they did not do this. My life became more difficult also. It was not easy before either but it became more dangerous after this film. Even though there is no risk of being killed, they can come up with defaming news about me,” she said.



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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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