A little bit of Sundance comes to Istanbul for !f
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 2/13/2011 12:00:00 AM | EMRAH GÜLER
Turkey’s one and only independent international film festival, !f Istanbul, kicks off next Thursday. To mark its 10th year, the festival is collaborating with the renowned Sundance Institute with nine film screenings, a screenwriting panel, a panel on Sundance Lab, an interactive case study on how the full circle of the Institute works, as well as hosting some of the films' directors
The mecca of independent filmmaking and alternative cinema, the one and only Sundance Institute is leaving the chilling cold of Utah for 10 days and flying you to Istanbul for a dream collaboration for many. The !f Istanbul AFM International Independent Films Festival kicks off this Thursday with a selection of films bigger and richer than ever.
!f Istanbul (and the subsequent !f Ankara) has always been much more than a 10-day fest of film screenings. The changing world order, human rights and new media have always been reflected in !f’s collection of cutting-edge cinema, screened under such sections like Fix the World, Rainbow Films, and the Opening, inspired by the government’s efforts to offer a solution to the long-standing Kurdish conflict in Southeast Turkey.
The lineup of activities and the guests who have things to say, as opposed to just being there, have in the past contributed to the offbeat flair of !f Istanbul. This year, the festival celebrates its 10th year. And what better way to mark the occasion than with a collaboration with the Sundance Institute?
The Sundance Institute is the driving force behind the world’s biggest independent moviemaking extravaganza, the Sundance Film Festival, along with artistic development programs for aspiring filmmakers. The institute was founded in 1981 by Robert Redford.
One of these programs is Film Forward, a program initiated under the incentive of U.S. President Barack Obama to develop worldwide intercultural dialogue. The institute this year selected Istanbul as one of its 14 locations worldwide for the program. !f will screen nine films from Film Forward, as well as host some of the directors of these films for its workshops and discussions.
“We are always interested in expanding across borders and boundaries. The Sundance collaboration is a natural extension of that effort that we are delighted to be hosting,” said Serra Ciliv, !f co-director. !f Istanbul will be hosting Hollywood screenwriters Bill Wheeler and Wesley Strick, renowned Israeli author and director Etgar Keret, as well as Sundance Institute directors for a workshop on developing screenwriting skills, a panel discussion and a case study.
[HH] From script to screen
The screenwriting workshop, the panel on an introduction to Sundance Labs and a case study on director and writer Cherien Dabis’ “Amreeka” will all take place on Feb. 26 in the Festival Center. The conversation about Sundance Institute programs, the Labs, will have Feature Film Program’s Director Michelle Satter and Associate Director Alesia Weston.
How did the marriage between !f and Sundance come to life? Ciliv and the brains behind !f have been discussing possible forms of collaboration with the Sundance Institute for around two years. This seemed the perfect opportunity to get the ball rolling, combining both an inspiring selection of films under the Film Forward banner, alongside the participation of directors who have worked with the Sundance Labs, a special program of talks, workshops and a panel discussion as well as a small Lab module for selected Turkish writer-directors.
“It is always inspiring to see artists develop their work from script to screen and the cultural conflict explored in this deeply personal story feels particularly relevant to many stories emerging from this region. We are especially excited to engage in this dialogue and exchange with Turkey’s rising talent and the local community,” said Weston.
“The films to be screened in Turkey represent fresh explorations of universal themes and the evolving nature of drama in our global community. ‘Boy,’ ‘Udaan’ and ‘Winter’s Bone’ navigate the transition to adulthood and redefine family in broadly different circumstances; ‘Amreeka’ and ‘Last Train Home’ depict contemporary challenges of immigration for those seeking work and a better life; ‘Afghan Star’ explores the story of youthful dreams and the clash of global pop culture in a traditional Muslim society; ‘Son of Babylon’ focuses on the enduring nature of family love in a society decimated by war," said Weston.
The From Script to Screen case study will be on “Amreeka,” a comedy about a Palestinian mother and son in a post-Sept. 11 U.S. The film was developed at Sundance’s first RAWI (an Arabic word meaning storyteller) Screenwriters Lab in Jordan in 2005. Dabis wil be the ideal candidate for such a case study as she “represents the full circle of support that Sundance Institute offers,” says Weston. “The script was developed at Sundance’s RAWI Lab in Jordan in 2005, the film is a featured selection in the Film Forward touring program, and the artist is in turn giving back by sharing her experiences with other artists in the region.” Check 2011.ifistanbul.com for the detailed program.