Painter’s life to be featured in film
The life of one of Turkey’s prominent painters, Devrim Erbil, will be featured in a film titled “The Sky was So Blue.” The film, written and directed by Durmuş Akbulut, will start shooting on Aug. 21 in Istanbul and Balıkesir.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Akbulut said that cinema owes its visual aesthetics to painting first.
He said that he, as well as other filmmakers, make films with a consciousness of painting as an art medium.
“There are many filmmakers in the history of the world cinema who act with a sense of painting,” he said. “For example, Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Almost all of Kurosawa’s films are the product of academic framing. Some of [Alfred] Hitchcock’s films take their settings directly from paintings by American painter Edward Hopper. The most effective dramatic light of cinema is named after a painter, Rembrandt.”
Akbulut stated that the idea of making a film about a painter has come up over time.
“I used Füssli and Michelangelo in my first film ‘Watchman’ and François Millet’s aesthetics in ‘Cherry Season.’ While studying cinema in France, my interest in painting increased. In time, I started writing stories on some pictures. My writings, mostly influenced by John Berger and Roland Barthes, miraculously won many people’s appreciation. Then, in 2007, they were collected in a book called ‘What Painting Tells.’ After this book, I made documentaries on Andy Warhol, Klimt, Goya, Monet and Vermeer. Among the Turkish artists, we decided to make a film on Devrim Erbil. The documentary, ‘Devrim Erbil: Poet of Painting,’ has made a great impression. I have a book of the same name.”
First in Turkey
Akbulut pointed out that the film is not entirely biographical.
“We need to know that this is the first fiction-based feature film based on a painter in Turkish cinema. A first example of drama and humor, decorated with fantastic elements. Never done before.”
Akbulut said the film will be through the perspective of Erbil’s eye, and apart from that, the entire film will be developed within the framework of a few events in Erbil’s life.
Anatolia, Istanbul, trees, birds and nature are the main actors of the film, the director said.
“Ultimately, this is a fictional film featuring imaginary characters,” he added.
Stating that he has a great sense of responsibility while making the film, Akbulut said: “I knew him almost to his gestures. I learned the finest details of his art and I keep learning. In addition, I had a chance to learn about his childhood, university teaching and daily life. These are priceless for a filmmaker. I honestly say that I see Devrim Erbil as an older brother, a teacher and ultimately my spiritual father. He always treated me like that. So, when I make this movie, I have this responsibility.”
Akbulut explained that he believes the audience will be able to connect with Erbil in the same way that he did.
“Devrim Erbil is, above all, an accessible artist. He may not look like that from the outside, but once you reach him, you will immediately feel his great warmth. This makes you relaxed. His paintings have always fascinated me. As I knew him, I also recognized an endless romanticism, subtle humor, wit and even the naturalness that instantly soften a tense environment in Devrim Erbil. In the context of the film, the childhood of Erbil was very interesting. I know that the fiction, lines and even point of view in his paintings began in his childhood. When I first saw his painting ‘Akçay and Havran,’ which he painted at the age of 15, I could not believe my eyes. It couldn’t have been a child. The lines are still there. Birds, trees, vibration, enthusiasm, and rhythm still exist.”
Akbulut emphasized that it will be a film with a strong cinematography, adding: “When we talk about the painter film, most of us think of a didactic film with a sullen face, which is usually the case. ‘Devrim Erbil: The Sky Was So Blue’ denies all this since its name. This is the story of a journey from a childhood that started in the warm geography of Anatolia to the colder colors of Istanbul.”
Akbulut said the biographical elements are only local elements for a film, but considering the international circulation of the film, the biography fell behind.
The filming will be made mainly in Balikesir and Istanbul, Akbulut said, adding that a few scenes of the film will be shot in Çanakkale. He said that they would start filming on Aug. 21 and is set to finish in four weeks.
The film is produced with the support of the Devrim Erbil Culture, Arts and Education Foundation. Turkish Ide Production is a co-producer.
Pointing out that the film will be a Turkish-German co-production, Akbulut said: “Of course, I have partners. We prepared the miniseries titled ‘The Painter’s Eye’ with Elçin Çelik, the owner of İde Yapım. He was my producer. While none of the producers approached such an ‘artwork,’ Elçin accepted it. Because he is an opera artist. It was my biggest chance, but two or three people cannot afford such a film. Because ’Devrim Erbil: The Sky Was So Blue’ will have a national representation value.”