Tuncel Kurtiz, travel companion of Festival on Wheels remembered

Tuncel Kurtiz, travel companion of Festival on Wheels remembered

Emrah GÜLER ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Tuncel Kurtiz, travel companion of Festival on Wheels remembered

This year Festival on Wheels film festival will commemorate Tuncel Kurtiz, Turkish actor passed recently. The festival also screens many famous and award winning Turkish movies, such as Yozgat Blues and Jin.

“Festival on Wheels is the festival that brings (late poet and writer) Onat Kutlar’s famous words ‘cinema is festivity’ to life the most,” wrote daily BirGün film critique Cüneyt Cebenoyan last Saturday. “In Festival on Wheels, you watch films, you discuss cinema, you talk about art, but wherever the festival travels, it blends into the life of that city. It explores that city, it becomes one with the people of that city, breathing with that city.”

Festival on Wheels, organized by Ankara Cinema Association and with the support of the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, hit the road for the 19th time on Nov. 27. For nearly two decades, the festival has been a place where generation after generation in distant parts of Turkey have had the chance to watch that magical first movie on screen, where cities had their very first movie theaters, and where they had the chance to talk with people who make films.

The festival first hit the road in the winter of 1995, kicking off in Ankara, heading off to Istanbul, İzmir and Eskişehir for a whole month. During its 18-year run, Festival on Wheels brought cinema and the love of cinema to 19 cities from the northern city of Sinop, to the western city of İzmir, and to Kars in the east, visiting some neighboring countries like Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Greece as well.

Tuncel Kurtiz, travel companion of Festival on Wheels rememberedRemembering Kurtiz in Edremit, his hometown

While it traveled to different cities throughout its 18-year run, one thing was always the same for the Festival on Wheels. It began its journey in Ankara, then moving on to other cities in its program. This year, it was different. The festival had its opening in the Aegean city of Edremit, a one-day event to honor the memory of Tuncel Kurtiz, the stage, film and TV actor, playwright and director, as well as the unfailing friend of the Festival on Wheels since its first year, who passed away last September. Edremit was the hometown of Kurtiz, and taking the festival to Edremit was a dream of the late actor.

Now, the festival audience in Ankara will have the rare chance to see another side of Kurtiz than the famed film and TV actor that they had come to love, the “trusted travel companion of the Festival on Wheels,” and an international stage actor. Today at 6 pm, there will be a special screening for Kurtiz at the Goethe Institut.

First, the audience will have a chance to watch the documentary, “Tuncel Kurtiz: a Trusted Travel Companion of the Festival on Wheels,” a newly-made documentary based on a compilation of material from the Festival on Wheels archive, as well as contributions from close friends of the veteran filmmaker.

“Kurtiz was a member of Ankara Cinema Association, one of the advisors of the festival, and a crucial name when making the programs,” said Ahmet Boyacıoğlu, Director of Ankara Cinema Association, an old friend of Kurtiz, and who directed Kurtiz in his debut feature “Siyah Beyaz” (Black and White) of 2010. “In 17 of the past 18 runs, Tuncel Kurtiz was a travel companion of the Festival on Wheels. He traveled to many cities in Turkey, as well as to Georgia, Greece and Macedonia. This documentary is mostly the archive material from these travels.”

A legendary performance

Following the documentary will have the screening of rare footage of Kurtiz on stage, his famous performance in Nazım Hikmet’s “Epic of Sheikh Bedrettin” with Sema Mortiz and Reyend Bölükbaşı at the Mediawave Festival in Hungary in 2004. “Kurtiz’s first performance in ‘Epic of Sheikh Bedrettin’ goes back to early 1990s,” said Boyacıoğlu. “Later, it was on stage in Turkey for several years. Unfortunately, there was no recording of any of the performances in Turkey. That’s why this newly-found, rare recording in Hungary is of great importance.”

Ankara audiences will also have the chance to see “Gül Hasan” (Hasan the Rose), an unconventional tale of Turkish immigrant workers in Europe directed by Tuncel Kurtiz in Sweden in 1979, on Dec. 5, Thursday. Kurtiz, who co-wrote the script with Nuri Sezer, also stars in the lead. The next stop of the Festival on Wheels will be Sinop, where the special screening will be shown to audiences on Dec. 7, Saturday.

In last year’s festival, a section was devoted to the five films Kurtiz “watches encore, encore,” with introductions made by him for each screening. Having talked to him last year, he had reminisced of the carnival feel of the festival throughout the years, “with ambassadors, culture ministers and acclaimed filmmakers visiting,” at one point, “the Hungarian team coming with their cooks and folk dancers, dancing and making goulash.” That very team who had invited him to repeat his performance in “Epic of Sheikh Bedrettin” in the Mediawave Festival.

Kurtiz had said, “Festival on Wheels has always been very dear to my heart as it has brought cinema to the people of Anatolia, helping them see great movies from the world cinema.” And he will always be dear to the heart of the Festival on Wheels, its team, its audience, and all the cities it has traveled to in nearly two decades.