Hello everybody and welcome to the next interview session of EuroTribe. I’ve got some fantastic guests this time as well, who are gonna share interesting tips and information about Turkish cinema. Why movies? Because one of the best ways to prepare for a trip to another country that you haven’t seen before is by watching movies. Actually you can get a taste of what you’re gonna experience and try to understand a bit more about culture and a way of life in another country.
So let’s get to the main content and my featured guests: Sinem and Şükran, who are students of the Bosphorus University and are here to recommend some Turkish films, film festivals etc.
01. Hello, could you briefly introduce your cinema club to our readers? What is the main idea of it and does it have a name? How many members does it have?
Sinem: It’s called Cinema Club of Bosphorus University and it takes around 60 members every year, only 5 or 6 of whom prefer to be active members. The club was founded in ’62 and since then tries both to learn and introduce the independent cinema, the alternative language and modifier impact of cinema.
Şükran: Our club, Boğaziçi University Cinema Club (BÜ(S)K), first became a club in 1962 by being one of the first cinema clubs of Turkey. Every week, we choose a film under a program (i.e. World Cinema, European Cinema) and one of us briefly explains the period and facts of the film and after the film screening we talk about the details of the film. Also, we sometimes do screenings of 35 mm, and when the weather is suitable, we arrange open-air screenings. We, as club members, always support “sharing” the work, the views without being in a hierarchy as many groups are. We take the decisions all together.
02. You are students of the Bosphorus University. Do you have all necessary conditions for your club?
Sinem: I think so. Our club is really opened to everyone, even being registered to the University is not necessary.
Şükran: Actually, we don’t. For instance, we have a tight budget during most of the terms. Often, we are paying individually several needs of the club. Most important problem is we don’t have a screening place of our own. So, we are using the auditorium, or sometimes any room which includes sound and projection system.
03. Cinema clubs are a great way to meet like-minded people. Generally, are they popular at other universities as well?
Sinem: It depends on the conditions of the universities. Since the coup d’état of 1980, state universities do not support the students to be engaged with art clubs just as a part of the project of depolitization of the Turkish youth in general. The situation is a bit different for Bosphorus. However, very recently some private universities started to support these kind of clubs partly as a way of attracting more students, perhaps.
Şükran: Yes, most of the universities in İstanbul, in Turkey have their cinema clubs. I don’t want to say the word “popular”, but there are several types of people who are interested in cinema. For some cinema is only to enjoy, for others it is to learn every little detail about the periods of cinematography. It really depends to the mind of club members’ and what they aim.
04. Let’s talk a little bit about Turkey. Which cinematography do you find most popular in your country?
Şükran: New Turkish Cinema
05. What are some festivals of national importance? Which film festivals have the power of attracting foreign tourists?
Sinem: Antalya Golden Orange, Adana Golden Boll and İstanbul Film Festival are the most important ones among many. Certainly İstanbul Film Festival is the most attractive for foreign tourists since it is held in İstanbul in spring.
Şükran: !F (Independent Film Festival) and International Istanbul Film Festival can be named to put in a category for attracting tourists. To be honest, even if I think it is important and meaningful that many interesting films and documentaries that have a discourse to change the world get a chance to be screened on those festivals, mostly, there is a hierarchic arrangement during most of festival organizations which I don’t support.
06. Many new films are being shot in Turkey. What do you think is the reason for that? What are some popular film locations in Istanbul?
Sinem: I think it has more than one reason. Financially the Ministry of Cultural Affairs supported new directors in the last decade. The success that Turkish Arthouse Movies had in European Festivals, mainly Cannes and Berlin. And a wider audience in comparison to past are the main reasons for the development of arthouse cinema – some filmmakers and authors herald the emergence of a new wave: the New Turkish Cinema. However, for the commercial cinema guichet success beginning with “The Bandit” (1996) is an enough reason to shot more movies in my opinion.
Şükran: I think, some people become more sensitive about social and political rights and problems. They want to voice these problems, and also some directors are affected by European cinematography. No doubt that İstanbul includes many of the popular places/streets for Turkish films, and also most of the cities of East Turkey.
07. What are some movies that people should see before coming to Turkey?
Sinem: “Somersault in a Coffin“(1996), “Distant”(2002), “Innocence” (1997), “10 to 11” (2009)
Şükran: They may see movies of the directors such as Lütfi Akad, Zeki Demirkubuz, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Derviş Zaim, Yeşim Ustaoğlu… I strongly suggest them to see the documentary films of last years which show social and political structure of Turkey like “Fecira” and “Akintiya Karsi”
08. Can you name some of your favourite Turkish movies?
Sinem: “Somersault in a Coffin”(1996), “Distant” (2002), “Cosmos” (2010)
Şükran: There are many films I found successful and interesing, but If I should name some; I can say Atıf Yılmaz’s “Düş Gezginleri” and Zeki Demirkubuz’s “Innocence”.
09. What are your favourite film festivals that are held in Istanbul?
Sinem: I will not call any festival as my favorite until we see an independent film festival held in Emek Sineması which is one of the oldest movie theaters of Turkey and now is being destroyed for the sake of the Urban Transformation Projects going on in Beyoğlu.
Şükran: I prefer screenings of documentaries which are followed by talks, but I don’t have any favourites.
10. Your favourite film venue in Istanbul?
Sinem: The ones in Beyoğlu.
Şükran: The ones which are on İstiklal Street.
11. And not to forget the rest of Europe, what are some European movies that you like? Which ones did you find popular between your members?
Sinem: Oh, it requires a very long answer. I will try to write only the ones that come into my mind first. The movies of Theo Angelopoulos have always been quite popular among the members of our club, that’s why we organized a retrospective lasting two weeks right after his death. Apart from him, I love the auteurs of the French New Wave; Renoir’s “Hiroshima Mon Amour”, Truffaut’s “Les quatre cents coups”, “Jules et Jim”, Godard’s “Bande a part”, “A bout de soufflé” and “La pianiste” and “Amour” from Haneke, “Satantango” from Bela Tarr, “La notte”, “L’eclisse”, “L’avventura” from Antonioni… can be listed for me.
Şükran: Again I should say there are lots of movies on my mind, but I like the styles, the movies of the directors such as Andrei Tarkovsky, Tony Gatlif and Fernando Solanas.
12. Are you planning any projects in the future?
Sinem: The club is planning to restart 35 mm movie screenings for the coming year. It is now much more important regarding the increasing number of movie theaters that are being opened in the shopping malls instead of the older ones closed for the construction of the shopping malls.
Şükran: In our club, every new term, we are arranging screenings under the name of different periods of World and European cinema. Sometimes we are screening documentaries or films by inviting their cast&crew to talk. Also, we are screening films with other clubs collectively. I wish to make more projects together with the cinema club members.
13. Anything else you wish to add?
Sinem: Thank you for preparing this interview.
Şükran: Thank you for having interest in our club and for your nice questions.
Recommendations by others
Deniz K. of OGAE Turkey (Films: Kelebegin ruyasi, Duvara Karşı, My Father and My Son; Festivals: Istanbul Film Festival)
Ayşe K.- Literature Student of the Istanbul University (Films: My Father and My Son, Uçurtmayı Vurmasınlar, Shattered Soul, Losers’ Club ; Festivals: Filmekimi, !F Independent Film Festival, Istanbul Short Film Festival)
Gökhan D. of 555 Şehir ve Felsefe (Films: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, The Girl with the Red Scarf, Dry Summer; Director: Yılmaz Güney)
Suggestions from the Couchsurfing Community (Films: Büyük Adam Küçük Aşk, Eve Dönüş, Three Monkeys, The Bandit, Clouds of May; Directors: Ferzan Ozpetek, Fatih Akın, Yılmaz Güney, Atıf Yılmaz, Yücel Çakmaklı)