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A master of life: Vedat Turkali

HDN | 5/1/2004 12:00:00 AM |

May 1, 2004-May 1, 2005 has been declared 'The Year of Vedat Turkali' to celebrate the 85th birthday of Vedat Turkali and thank him for his contributions to Turkish literature, theater and cinema 'So much pain was not suffered in vain Istanbul Wait for

  • May 1, 2004-May 1, 2005 has been declared 'The Year of Vedat Turkali' to celebrate the 85th birthday of Vedat Turkali and thank him for his contributions to Turkish literature, theater and cinema
  • 'So much pain was not suffered in vain Istanbul Wait for us Wait with your great and calm Suleymaniye With your parks, bridges, towers and squares Wait with your coffee houses with white wood tables leaning against your blue seas' (Vedat Turkali - from the poem "Wait For Us Istanbul")
  • ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News

    A near centennial witness and a Turkish intellectual who has experienced all the turning points in Turkey's history and whose principle is to not accept limits on his horizon or his conscience... May 13, 2004 is the 85th birthday of Vedat Turkali, a Turkish intellectual who has worked in cinema for nearly 20 years but who thought that in an atmosphere of pressurized cinema he would not have the opportunity to direct a movie in the way his heart desired and started writing scenes, poems and books... Turkish intellectual Vedat Turkali, who is devoted to his "dreams," saying, "I don't know if I am scenarist or a director, but I am still as passionate now about cinema as in the days of my youth. I don't only love cinema; I also believe in it. I believe in its impact, authority, potential and future."

    A group of intellectuals, some of whom are theater artists, some journalists, some men of letters and some people who played a role in his life, got together in order to thank him for his contributions to Turkish literature, theater and cinema. His friends are happy about giving him a nice surprise for his birthday. May 1, 2004-May 1, 2005 was declared "The Year of Vedat Turkali."

    His life, from dreams to reality

    Turkali became interested in literature in his childhood. His name was "man of letters" in high school. He fell in love, wrote poems. He got angry with his classmate and wrote satires. His only dream was to be a teacher of literature. In daily Radikal's April 19 edition, Celal Baslangic says the following about Vedat Turkali: "Turkali has been pursuing his 'dream' for 85 years. If a person pursues his dream that much, be sure that it is not a dream but real." Even if not all of Turkali's dreams have come true, he worked most sincerely as a teacher, filmmaker and novelist and made efforts to be a good revolutionist.

    He came to Istanbul for his education and studied at the faculty of letters as a military student. While studying Turkology, he met Merih, who was first his friend, later his love and now his wife. After graduating he worked as a teacher of literature on one hand and for the Turkish Communist Party (TKP) on the other. He was tried in 1951 for being a member of the TKP and sentenced to seven years in prison. While in prison he found the opportunity to read books about cinema in which he had been interested since his youth. He says: "I had nothing to do after being released in 1958. Nobody would employ me. I worked as an editor in Babiali for a while. We founded Gar Publishing House with Rifat Ilgaz and Suavi and published humorous papers."

    A short time later he met 19-year-old Yilmaz Guney. He first wrote the dialogue of a scenario, then scenes for a movie titled "Otobus Yolculari" (Bus Passengers) directed by Ertem Gorec. He took the name Vedat Turkali at this time. His real name was Abdulkadir Pir Hasan. He says: "We decided to send the scenario with pseudonyms. My name became Vedat. We used 'Turkali' to please the censor's office. The censor was working a lot in those days. This name was wound around my neck like the chain of a curse. I later wanted to write under my own name, but nobody would accept it."

    He took a step towards the world of cinema with Guney, whom he met at the publishing house. His first scene was "Dolandiricilar Sahi" (King of Swindlers). He wrote the scenes for important movies like "Otobus Yolculari," "Uc Tekerlekli Bisiklet" (Three-wheeled Bicycle) and "Karanlikta Uyananlar" (Those Awakening in the Dark). In 1965 he wrote scenes for "Sokakta Kan Vardi" (There Was Blood on the Street) and directed it. Later he wrote the scenes for "Korkusuz Asiklar" (Brave Lovers) and "Kopuk." While speaking earnestly about those days, Turkali says the following: "Sometimes I think that if I had not been apprehended or if I had been acquitted, maybe I would be a retired teacher of literature now. Thank God I was apprehended."

    Wait for us, Istanbul...

    Turkali did not like publishing too much. In addition to writing novels and movie scenes, he was also a poet. His poem "Bekle Bizi Istanbul" (Wait for Us, Istanbul), which he wrote many years ago, was composed but he thought he was not a good poet. "There is a giant like Nazim Hikmet in Turkey. There is Oktay Rifat. There is Yahya Kemal. I am saying this without being discriminatory. They are giants. In poetry, I wouldn't do 10 percent of what I did in a novel," says Turkali.

    Turkali is the person who brought political cinema to Turkish cinema. "Karanlikta Uyananlar," directed by Ertem Gorec, was the first unionist movie. His first novel was "Bir Gun Tek Basina" (Alone Someday), in which he talked about May 27. "Mavi Karanlik" (Blue Dark), in which he talked about the '70s, followed it. These two novels became very famous. Later he wrote his novel "Guven" (Trust). He lived in London for 10 years to write "Guven." He explains the reason he lived in another country to write this novel on which he spent almost his entire life: "I have been collecting documents for this novel for 50 years. I have been to Russia four times. What would I have done if the police had taken them one day? To speak honestly, I couldn't be very trusting."

    Just as he acted stubbornly towards life in order to finish the novel, Turkali also behaved with stubborness as regards the name of the novel because he had planned this novel and its name in 1942. "I can say that I became a writer to write this novel. The others, for example, my most famous novel, 'Bir Gun Tek Basina' or 'Mavi Karanlik,' were like essays. I don't claim that I did a perfect job. I am hard to please, but I know that being fond of perfection is a dead-end street."

    Turkali was also tried in the case of the Turkish Writers' Union, which was established after September 12, the Intellectuals Petition and Baris Association. In his defense in the "Intellectuals Petition Case," his final words were recorded in history: "We are before you because we believed that we could present a petition. The public prosecutor is among those who defend the idea that a petition cannot be presented. The decision is yours. If a conclusion is arrived at that it cannot be presented, what will happen? It means that we, the intellectuals of this country, deserve to be punished for the reason that we couldn't understand that even a petition could not be presented in this country. We'll serve our sentence."

    Works that will always be remembered

    He wrote about his life in his book titled "Communist," which was published in 2001. It is a book that should be read by those who are interested in the details of the Turkish left movement and its general situation in history. In "Communist" he wrote of his relations with Sefik Husnu, Mihri Belli, Sabiha Sertel, Behice Boran and many other people; his memories of Nazim Hikmet, Cahit Kulebi, Behcet Necatigil, Sait Faik and a number of other famous names. Today he is working on a new novel.

    Turkali received the following awards: the TRT 1970 Play Award for his play "Dallar Yesil Olmali" (Branches Must Be Green); first prize in Milliyet Publications 1974 Novel Competition; the 1976 Orhan Kemal Award; "The Best Scenario" awards at the Antalya Film Festival for the movies "Karanlikta Uyananlar" and "Kara Carsafli Gelin" (Bride with a Black Garment); the Cidalc and Workers' Unions Special Award at the Carlovy Vary Film Festival for the movies "Bedrana" and "Gunesli Bataklik" (Sunny Marsh). For the simplicity of his language, his mastery of Turkish and his contributions to our world of literature, he makes us say, "Thank God, you chose to be a writer." Many happy returns for Vedat Turkali, who is the master of life for his modest life and his attitude favoring the oppressed...

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