Turkey’s first ‘accessible’ film fest to kick off in Ankara cinema halls
Emrah GÜLER ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Many are hoping the film festival, which is being held for the first time, will become a regular fixture in the festival scene and inspire similar other events in the future. The Ankara Accessible Film Festival will run between Sept 4 and 8 at two venues.Turkey’s first “accessible” film festival is ready to kick off tomorrow in Ankara with the screening of Rezan Yeşilbaş’s Golden Palm-winning film in last year’s Cannes Film Festival, “Sessiz” (Silent).
The name of the festival is the Ankara Accessible Film Festival. And who exactly is it accessible for? With the average moviegoer’s concerns limited to the mode of transportation to the theater, the availability of tickets or the choice of refreshments, the access referred to here is the access for those with disabilities to become part of the movie-going experience.
Many are hoping the film festival, which is being held for the first time, will become a regular fixture in the festival scene and inspire similar other events in the future. The Ankara Accessible Film Festival will run between Sept. 4 and 8 at two venues, CerModern and Cinemaximum Armada. The festival is organized by Puruli Culture Art and supported by Turkey’s Family and Social Policies Ministry.
How will the festival become accessible for those with disabilities? And what falls into the broad definition of the disabled?
“All of the screenings, discussions and workshops are organized for the full access of those with impaired hearing and impaired vision,” Ezgi Yalınalp, the festival’s program coordinator, told the Hürriyet Daily News. “All screenings will be presented with sign language for audiences with impaired hearing, and audio description for audiences with impaired vision. Discussions will also accommodate sign language.”
As for those without any disability, “they will be able to watch the screenings with a headset which will be available on request at the screening venues,” said Yalınalp, who is a member of Puruli, a group that calls itself “a cultural operator.”
Along with Yalınalp, Festival Director Emrah Kalan and Festival General Coordinator Kıvanç Yalçıner constitute Puruli, which organizes alternative projects to open channels for people to access art that is outside the mainstream and cannot find a viable place in the commercial cycle.
Competition without Obstacles
Some of the previous work done by Puruli include a selection of Turkish shorts to the recent Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, which screened a collection of films in Ankara from the signatories of the Oberhausen Manifesto that kick-started the New German Cinema on the 50th anniversary of the Manifesto, and the organization of the Canlandıranlar Animators Festival held last spring in Istanbul and Ankara.
“We wanted to provide a chance for those impaired with vision and hearing a chance to watch a selection of contemporary films from Turkish and world cinema,” said Yalçıner of the Ankara Accessible Film Festival’s selection. “The selection will include award-winning or popular films released in the last couple of years that had wowed both the audience and the critics.”
The program includes international award-winners and box office hits like Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo,” Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” examples from Turkish cinema that are finding it increasingly difficult to find theaters for screening, like Emin Alper‘s “Tepenin Ardı” and Erdem Tepegöz’s “Zerre” (The Particle), as well as a selection of shorts.
“We also wanted our audience to experience a film competition,” said Yalçıner, hence the Competition without Obstacles, with six Turkish films competing for the prize. The Films Without Obstacles section will feature two films that deal with the theme of disability, Murat Erün’s documentary “800 km Engelli” (800 km Hurdles), and directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’s “Intouchables.” How did the idea for an accessible festival come up? “The idea that drove us to initiate the festival was that cultural life can only be enriched when every single member of the society is able to participate, and everyone has the right to participate in cultural life. We believe it is necessary to establish the conditions for those with disabilities to have equal access to social and cultural lives,” said Kalan. Visit www.engelsizfestival.com/en/ for more information.