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Golden Bear for 'Bal' helps promote Black Sea region

RİZE - Anatolia News Agency | 2/24/2010 12:00:00 AM |

While the natural beauty of the Çamlıhemşin on the Black Sea coast was already a drawing card for many tourists, the awarding of the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear prize to ‘Bal’ (Honey), a film by Semih Kaplanoğlu shot in the area, is likely to draw even more tourists. Officials hope the film’s success will encourage other directors to choose the area for filmmaking

Çamlıhemşin, a Black Sea district in the province of Rize, is preparing for more domestic and foreign tourists following the international success of the film “Bal” (Honey), which was filmed in the area.

“Bal,” which follows the story of a young boy after a tragedy, was directed by Semih Kaplanoğlu and won the Golden Bear, the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival, this past weekend.

Speaking to Anatolia news agency, Rize Culture and Tourism Director İsmail Hocaoğlu said the region had been attracting more tourists in recent years. Last year, nearly half a million tourists came to Rize, 55,000 of whom were foreigners.

Hocaoğlu said there were many different tourism alternatives in Rize, adding: “The city is home to different activities, such as canoeing, rafting, mountaineering and bird observation. Furthermore, the historic stone bridges and the wooden and stone houses are worth seeing. All these things make the province special. This is why the number of visitors will continue to increase this year and in the following years.”

He said Çamlıhemşin particularly offered a lot of tourism opportunities. “The historic Zil Castle, the Kaçkar Mountains, the Gelintülü, Bulut and Palovit waterfalls, and the Sal, Pokut, Avusor, Yukarı Kavron and Elevit alpine meadows are prominent places … Those, who want to have a real holiday should see this district.”

Speaking about “Bal,” Hocaoğlu said: “We are proud that the film was made in Çamlıhemşin and that it has been seen in an international environment. The nature of the region will be highlighted thanks to the film. It can be featured in other films because it has a striking geography. This will lead more people to visit the city. They will see the region in the film and want to visit it.”

[HH] Fırtına Valley may become popular area for filmmaking

Çamlıhemşin Mayor İdris Lütfü Melek also believes “Bal” will make a great contribution to the promotion of the region. “The whole world saw the beauty of Çamlıhemşin. Our honey was also promoted. This film was the third one made in the region last year. I believe new films will be made in the coming years.”

Melek said the area’s natural beauty was crucial to the film’s success. “Of course, the director and the film team have a great share in the film’s success. But the area where the film was made contributed to the film. In my opinion, the visual beauty of Çamlıhemşin was very critical for this award. We want to turn the Fırtına Valley into an area for filmmaking. In this way, we will make a better promotion of our region and district and say our region competes with Hollywood.”

[HH] Hotel owners support more films

Zeynep Haşimoğlu, owner of the Haşimoğlu Hotel in Ayder, a famous alpine meadow, said the international success of the film was very important for the promotion of the region. “More films will be made in the region from now on. I think the number of German and other European tourists will increase after the screening of the film.”

Ömer Durmuş, owner of Ayder’s Sis Hotel, believes filmmaking in the region should be fostered, adding that “Bal” will make a great contribution to the region.

[HH] Çamlıhemşin

Çamlıhemşin is famous for its hot springs that are thought cure many diseases, Ayder, the Fırtına Valley, as well as being one of the greenest places in Turkey with its impenetrable forests.

There are 15 historical, arched stone bridges and nearly 70 stone and wooden mansions in the district. The district’s 600-year-old Zil Castle is also one of the most prominent tourism spots in the province.

BOX

[HH] About the film ‘Bal’

The 60th Berlin Film Festival on Sunday gave the Golden Bear to “Bal” (Honey). The last time a Turkish film received the award was in 1964. "Bal," a Turkish-German co-production, tells the story of a 6-year-old boy who wanders through the woods searching for his lost father and tries to make sense of his life. His father is a beekeeper whose bees have disappeared unexpectedly, threatening his livelihood. A bizarre accident kills the father. There is little dialogue or music in the film.

“Bal” is the third and last film in director Kaplanoğlu’s Yusuf Trilogy, following “Yumurta” (Egg) and “Süt” (Milk).

Kaplanoğlu said the award was "like a rebirth," adding he hoped it would be an inspiration to young filmmakers in Turkey. During his acceptance speech, he called attention to increasing threats against Turkey's Black Sea wilderness, where the film was shot.

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