31 years in raising a generation of Istanbulite cinephiles
The audience of the 31st Istanbul Film Festival crowded the citie's theatres
The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) who celebrates the 40th anniversary of its foundation this year, successfully organized the 31st edition of the Istanbul Film Festival during April. The Istanbulite cinephiles who owe quite a lot to the festival since their ‘childhood’ once again crowded the theatres.
However the festival does not only contribute to the upbringing of the cinephiles, but also to that of the young Turkish film directors as well as the development of the Turkish film industry with activities such as the ‘Meetings On the Bridge’ platform and the Turkish-German Co-Productions Development Fund. The following interview with the film festival’s director Azize Tan reveals a lot about their contributions.
How was the “Meetings on the Bridge” platform within the scope of the Istanbul International Film Festival conceived?
In the second year Film Development Workshop was established with the purpose of presenting new film projects and filmmakers from Turkey. Every year the interest of the international film industry multiplied and MoB started collaborations with film institutions from Europe.
This year with the launch of Work in Progress workshop MoB became the meeting point for national and international filmmakers. Besides the directors and producers of the projects and films in production selected for the Film Development and Work in Progress workshops, Turkish filmmakers with projects had the chance to meet potential co-producers, buyers. Also the producers of the films, that are soon to start their festival journey, realized meetings with festival programmers and sales agents. During the panels heads of institutions from Turkey and Europe discussed about future collaborations and supporting co-productions between Turkey and Europe.
What is the Turkish-German Co-Productions Development Fund?
Turkish- German coproduction development fund was established by the Meetings on the Bridge - Istanbul Film Festival, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein Film Fund in 2010, with the purpose of supporting co-productions and enhancing cultural relations between the two countries. This year, 7 projects were unanimously selected to receive funding for a total of 90,000 €. The partners noted that that 'the quality of the projects we received was excellent and we are very excited about what the future may bring in terms of new Turkish-German co-productions.'
What are the criteria looked for in the film-makers targeted by this fund?
The co-producers should have experience in production in their countries.
There are always various events organized alongside the festival; what effects does this have on the festival audience?
We had twelve master classes, panel discussions and a workshop at the festival.
Meanwhile, panel discussions and roundtables as part of the activities take on a crucial role by incorporating the current and the politic into the festival. This year “Filming Revolution”, “Hydroelectric Power Plants and Documentaries”, and “Van Earthquake – Art in Ruins” panel discussions effectively embraced current discussions –global and local– where art and politics converge. The notes from the much debated “Filming Revolution” roundtable is most likely going to be published.
What were the highlights of this year’s festival?
Terence Davies, whose latest work “The Deep Blue Sea” opened the festival, was present at the opening and later gave a master class to a very enthusiastic audience. The Greek Cinema panel, with the participation of Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou – two rising stars of recent years – in parallel to the Greek cinema section in the programme, garnered interest.
The Turkish audience enjoyed and appreciated this encounter obviously, as “Alpis”, Lanthimos’ much-awaited second feature, was the second most-watched film in the festival.
The jury presidents aroused much interest as the international jury was headed by acclaimed director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and the National jury head was Murathan Mungan, a well-known figure in both literature and film circles. Ceylan’s master class that lasted for more than 2 hours, was a huge event, as his presence in similar activities are scarce.
Worth mentioning is the Meetings on the Bridge, which was acclaimed in many levels, and is outgrowing itself each year. But also worth a praise is the number and quality of the films from Turkey. The Turkish films showcase in 2012 included three Turkish and five world premieres.
Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) organizes, besides the Istanbul International Film Festival, the Istanbul International Music, the Istanbul International Jazz, the Istanbul International Theatre Festivals as well as the Istanbul Biennial and will organize the first of Istanbul Design Biennial this coming October. Does operating within one such big entity have any influence on the film festival in any way?
In what ways does the city of Istanbul shape the festival in your opinion?
In so many ways, actually... First of all, the festival taking place in Istanbul is a huge point of attraction for its guests from abroad. Istanbul is huge, cosmopolitan, has a background of millennia. When this is combined with the recent rise of the Turkish film industry, the festival becomes a brilliant attraction point.
The festival reflects the characteristics of the city in its vibrancy, dynamism, and heritage. However, the city is changing very fast. Beyoğlu, the main district where the festival has been taking place for the last 30 years is one of the main regions where this change can be observed, and unfortunately, this swift transformation is ominous for the festival, which still lacks a main “festival centre,” and keeps losing its venues. Large movie theatres, for instance and primarily century-old Emek, are closing down, giving way to multiplexes, and this is a threat for the festival in this sense.