Promoting Turkish cinema at Berlinale

Promoting Turkish cinema at Berlinale

Emrah Güler ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Promoting Turkish cinema at Berlinale

Turkish directors have gathered at the festival such as Uğur Yücel.

Last year around this time there was good news for Turkish cinema from the Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival. Newcomer Emin Alper’s “Tepenin Ardı” (Beyond the Hill) had won the Caligari prize and the Special Mention for Best Feature, while director and writer Reis Çelik came home with the Crystal Bear for his “Lal Gece” (Night of Silence).

This year’s Berlinale kicked off Feb. 7 with three feature films and one short from Turkish cinema selected from this year’s program of around 200 films. But there is more to the promotion of Turkish cinema at the Berlinale than the screenings. The Turkish cinema stand is a powerhouse hub for buyers, sellers and filmmakers to meet in hopes of making the right connections.

The Ankara Cinema Association (ASD) is the name behind organizing the Turkish cinema stand at the Berlinale, as well as Cannes International Film Festival, for the last four years. Traveling around Turkey to spread the love of cinema for the last 18 years with the Festival on Wheels every winter, ASD continues to travel the rest of the year in Europe, true to its nature.

Ahmet Boyacıoğlu, Başak Emre and Pınar Evrenosoğlu are the core team that runs the Festival on Wheels, and that organizes the meticulously planned Turkish cinema stand at the Berlinale and Cannes. While the team runs the stand at the Berlinale, the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s Cinema General Directorate acts as the main supporter.

Talking to the Hürriyet Daily News from Berlin, Evrenosoğlu pointed at an increasing interest in Turkish cinema in the stands both in Berlin and in Cannes. “In recent years, Turkish cinema is making itself heard more and more across the globe, and this has a direct reflection in the popularity of the Turkish cinema stand at both of the festivals,” said Evrenosoğlu.

Celebrities on the red carpet, like this year’s Matt Damon, Jude Law and Juliette Binoche, might be the initial attraction for these high-caliber festivals, but their hearts and souls lie in something altogether different. “Both the Berlinale and Cannes serve as meeting places for cinema professionals, for producers, distributors and directors, across the globe. These festivals are integral to the annual programs of the film industry,” said Evrenosoğlu.

Turkish cinema wows at Berlinale

 “It is very crucial for Turkish cinema to be represented and that the stand serves as a hub where Turkish filmmakers come together with film professionals from around the world.” Other than that, there are the bibles that filmmakers take home to their countries: the catalogs. “There are two catalogs in English that filmmakers can take from our stand. One includes a list of feature films in the market, as well as a list of film companies and film festivals in Turkey. The other includes a list of shorts and short and long documentaries.” There are also the DVDs with a compilation of new short films that went through an initial selection process, as well as books and publications on Turkish cinema.

The increasing popularity of the Turkish cinema stand in both Berlin and Cannes can, to a great extent, be attributed to Turkey’s regular presence in the program. “There is at least one film from Turkey selected into the program in both of the festivals, and more often than not coming home with awards,” said Evrenosoğlu. “This year’s Berlinale is especially important as there are four films in this year’s program from Turkey.” Three of the films from Turkey are features. Director and writer Uğur Yücel’s “Soğuk” (Cold), to be screened in the “Panorama” section, will take the audience to the harsh winter of the northeastern city of Kars. “Panorama Special” will feature Aslı Özge’s “Yaşamboyu” (Lifelong), the suffocating story of a married couple in their fifties. Perhaps the most-anticipated Turkish feature will be master Reha Erdem’s “Jin,” the haunting story of a 17-year-old woman trying to survive in the black forests. The film will compete in the “Generation 14plus” section.

The fourth film from Turkish cinema will be Köken Ergun’s “Aşura” (Ashura). “The opening film for the ‘Generation’ section on Feb. 8 was ‘Jin,’ and it wowed the audience,” said Evrenosoğlu. “Tickets for ‘Hayatboyu’ were sold out as well for its screening.”