Refugee tragedy to become festival film
İZMİRA new short film depicting the tragedy of Syrian refugees attempting to reach Europe has been shot in the Aegean province of İzmir’s Çeşme district. The shooting was done on the beach of Palace Hotel in three days.
The film “Yüzme Öğreniyorum” (I am Learning to Swim) stars Gönül Nagiyeva, who plays Syrian woman Ruksan, and Ergun Kuyucu, who plays a man called Hasan.
Focusing on the refugee problem, a bleeding wound of the world, the film tells the story of Hasan and Ruksan, who escaped to Turkey from their war-torn country Syria and are trying to go to Europe on a dinghy boat with a group of refugees in a bid to live a better future.
Speaking to Doğan News Agency, Nagiyeva said there are two types of people: victims and warriors. “If a person becomes a refugee, s/he is both a victim and a warrior. It is very hard to fight to survive on the one hand, and to have worries about the future on the other. Millions of Syrian refugees undergo this tragedy. These people make their decision not willingly but out of desperation,” she said.
She said she will tell the events in the film with her facial expressions. “In the film, I play a Syrian woman who tries to escape to Europe with her husband. I express what she feels without speaking but with my facial expressions. Will we be able to go to Europe with my husband? I don’t know; I have a fear. You will either be a victim or a warrior. I am a warrior on the boat. We will see the end of the story in the film. It is a big responsibility to have a role in this film and I am proud of it,” she said.
Nagiyeva believes the cause of wars is egos. “I don’t discriminate Syrians from Turks or other nations. To me, human is human. I try to live my life like this. If people selfishly mind their own businesses, wars will occur. Unfortunately, ego is the only cause of all problems. This is the war of egos. I hope everything will be better today,” she added.
‘A big excitement’
Kuyucu, who is playing the husband of Nagiyeva in the film, said the tragedy Syrians undergo was a result of the world’s shameful response to it.
“When I was offered the role, I liked the script too much. I always think of fathers and husbands there when I read about the death of Syrians who are trying to escape to Europe. Because eastern men have responsibilities; I am always curious about their state of mind. This is why I liked this project too much. The tragedy of Syrians might have happened to us, too. If we had to, we would escape too. This is why I am very excited about my role,” he added.
Turkey first stop on migration route
The director and the scriptwriter of the film, Serpil Altın, said “I am Learning to Swim” was purely a story about migration.
“The reason why I chose this story is that it is a universal story; these stories should make us concerned. Syrian citizens had to leave their country because of the civil war that started in 2011. On the migration route, Turkey has always been the first stop, a bridge between Europe and Asia. As a Turkish female director, I want to bring to attention one of these journeys to hope,” she said.
The producer of the film, Korhan Uğur, said the film received award from the Kısakes Film Festival Pitching Platform.
“The film will be shown in 32 venues, 22 in Turkey and 10 abroad. We think that it will draw attention especially in Europe. The film tells the lives of Syrian refugees in all details. Even though it is hard to tell all the drama in 10 minutes, director Altın made a good film. We hope that the film will win awards in many festivals. We will join the Cannes Film Festival as well as the Berlin, Toronto, Doha, Brisbane, Sarajevo and Tehran international film festivals,” he said.