Coming-of-age story winner of Golden Boll Film Fest enters movie theaters

Coming-of-age story winner of Golden Boll Film Fest enters movie theaters

Deniz Çiyan ISTANBUL
Coming-of-age story winner of Golden Boll Film Fest enters movie theaters

The co-directors of the film ‘Across the Sea’ describe the film as the story of a woman, who needs to have a journey to her innocence to become an adult.


Esra Saydam (L) and Nisan Dağ during
the Golden Boll award ceremony.

The award-winning film “Across the Sea” (Deniz Seviyesi), a coming-of-age tale about a woman going back and forth between two countries and two men, will come to the big screen on Nov. 7 on the back of critical acclaim.

The film, by female directors Esra Saydam and Nisan Dağ, received six awards at the 21st International Golden Boll (Altın Koza) Film Festival, including the award for best director, and seems set to garner more awards from international festivals.

Saydam and Dağ told the Hürriyet Daily News that they were very excited to see their first feature film being released after winning awards from such a prestigious festival.

“The film is about a woman who needs to have a journey to her innocence; she is a child and she has to become an adult,” said Saydam, while Dağ described it in a Robert Frost-like manner, calling it “The road not taken.”

“The story is about a woman mentally stuck between two lives, the life she chooses and the one she missed,” said Dağ.

Damla, a Turkish woman who is six months’ pregnant that has been living in New York for the past eight years with her American husband, Kevin, faces her unburied past when they return to a seaside summer house in Turkey’s Ayvalık, where Damla spent her childhood summers. Damla, and thus Kevin, come across her old boyfriend, Burak, who holds more meaning for Damla than just love.

Commenting on how it was to direct a film with a partner, the co-directors defined it as a marriage and the film itself as their baby.

Saydam said they especially appreciated the shared duties when the director needed to be in two places at the same time. “Two directors could be sent to two different places to solve a problem,” said Saydam.

New Yorker way of working more soothing

Both of the directors said having a friend with them, who had also lived and studied in New York, was very soothing as doing things the New Yorker way made them feel better about combining their strengths.

Saydam and Dağ are both graduates of Columbia University’s MFA film program, where they met and decided to work together on their first feature film.

“We had a half-American/New Yorker and half-Turkish crew. We never screamed at our crew and a [spirit of] friendly collaboration was set inside our crew,” said Dağ. “With this film, we influenced and educated each other.”

The co-directors said the Culture Ministry had criticized their film for being a “TV movie” in an interview designed to decide which films to support.

“I do not blame them because they had only read the script. That is where our directorial skills stepped in,” said Dağ, adding that they were stubborn in telling and convincing ministry officials about how the end product would be.

“Across the Sea” was made with contributions from different institutions, including the production support received from the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s General Directorate of Cinema.

The co-directors also expressed their happiness at the six awards they received from the 21st International Golden Boll Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals in Turkey.

Dağ and Saydam received the best director award, together with the best cinematography, best editing and best music awards. While the best actress award went to Damla Sönmez (Damla) for her leading role in the film, Ahmet Rıfat Şungar (Burak) also grabbed the best actor award for his lead role.

Commenting on the criticism they received at Turkish and foreign festivals, the co-directors said that while the audience and jury in the Istanbul Film Festival, who the co-directors described as having a sophisticated taste, found the film “light,” the Golden Boll Festival’s jury, which was headed by award-wining Turkish film director Reha Erdem, “loved it.”

“Reha Erdem is my inspiration,” said Dağ. “It was even more exciting for me to get our awards from such a jury.”