With the support of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the International Bosporus Film Festival took place between Nov. 20 and Nov. 27. The amount of applications to the National Short Fiction Film and National Short Film sections totaled more than 2,620 from 111 different countries. Aiming to contribute to the development of motion pictures that have ethical, aesthetic and technical integrity in Turkey and around the world, the International Feature-Length Film section was added to the venue as well. Awards were distributed in 12 different categories to support young directors and producers such as the Ahmet Uluçay Grand Prize, which amounted to TL 50,000, Best Feature-Length Film ($50,000), Best Director ($5,000), Best Screenplay ($2,500), Best National Short Fiction Film (TL 15,000) and many more.
Workshops, panels and interviews took place during the week with renowned cinema professionals such as Derviş Zaim, Ümit Ünal, Susan Batson, Murat Şeker, Belçim Bilgin, Orhan İnce, Hu Wei-Lendita Zeqiraj, Feza Çaldıran and many more. Atlas Cinema, Majestik Cinema, Tarık Zafer Tunaya Culture Center, Tepe Nautilus Cinemaximum and The Marmara Pera were the venues that hosted the film screenings, panels, interviews and workshops.
If you missed the panels and interviews held during last year's Bosporus Film Festival, this year a book containing all conversations was published and distributed, free of charge, at the venues. A PDF version of the books is available online at: http://bogazicifilmfestivali.com.
We had the chance to interview the Executive Council Chairman Ogün Şanlıer and General Art Director Kamil Koç in order to get a better idea of the festival, what is stands for and where Turkish cinema is headed.
Daily Sabah: Organized by the International Boğaziçi Cinema Association, the third International Boğaziçi Film Festival hosted the premiere of 11 films this year. How did you choose these films? Can you tell us a little bit about the process?
Kamil Koç: Our motto for the film festival is "ethics, aesthetics and techniques." In our festival, we make sure to take this motto into consideration and act accordingly. The unity between these aspects of cinema is very important for us. We picked not only the 11 films being premiered but all the films in the festival according to these aspects: Ethics aesthetics and techniques. For us, a good film is a film that can use the ontological components equally and can compose a story worth telling. We also wanted to pick films in which the whole family can go together and enjoy the festival atmosphere it has to offer. Also, providing children aesthetic education was one of our aims when picking these films. Although we are not always 100 percent successful in terms of this aim, we gave it our best try and are continuing to progress in our film selections as we gain more experience. We know that there are many films that have the potential to be shown at our film festival so we are always on the lookout for films that haven't reached a certain international level yet. We are going to work even harder in the upcoming years to pick films that help people get a taste of aesthetic art.
DS: How did the context of this year's film festival change from the previous years?
KK: We had sections of the festival that are non-changing; these are very important for us. Some of the sections that did not change over the years are our sections called "From Tradition to the Future" where we try to build a bridge between the past traditions of our cinematic history and the future of where it will eventually end up. Another is the "Portrait" section where we select a director each year and show his/her complete works. This year, "Portrait" was dedicated to Reha Erdem. For the first time this year, we included the International Feature Length Film Competition. Although this is new for our festival, the idea has been one of the sections we wished to contribute to the festival from the first year of planning it. Again, like last year, we have our panels, forums and workshops to offer cinema lovers. The Grand Ahmet Uluçay prize is still important for us, just as it was in the previous years. We still have competitions in all categories, including the international and national short fiction film competition, the short documentary film competition, the honor guest country, which was Romania this year, short animation films, a section called "Contemporary Fairy Tales with Hayao Miyazaki" and many more. This year we had the famous Hollywood acting coach, Susan Batson, coming to conduct an acting workshop for both amateur and professional actors. Although the names of our guests and honor countries are changing, we still preserved our basic stance throughout the festival. We are trying to bring out the potential for world cinema that Turkish cinema has, as a city like Istanbul has the potential of being the center of cinema in the region. For us, if something is new and fresh, it is always good. Our aim is to keep up the contemporary feel of cinema.
DS: During the festival, cinema lovers had a chance to attend panels, forums and workshops hosted by master filmmakers. How do you think these platforms can improve the concept of cinema in Turkey?
Ogün Şanlıer: Unfortunately, Turkish cinema has not yet established an industrial presence. I believe that the television and cinema sectors cannot use this power in an effective way. In our beloved Istanbul, the absence of a film market in an international sense is the first thing we must focus on.
KK: Since our first year, we organized workshops, panels and interviews in different areas aiming to support young artists in their creative processes, and we continued to do so this year. We had a variety of activities embedded in our festival program. This is where I want to express my gratitude toward our workshop instructors and guests who joined our panels and interviews and for the contributions they made to the future of our cinema industry.
OŞ: We have a motto in the Istanbul Media Academy: "Film is learned by filming." In this context, we are trying to teach film with the help of professionals who have experience in the industry. These panels, forums and interviews are designed to help amateur filmmakers understand the film industry. The Istanbul Media Academy has helped us greatly to establish the film festival. We were very cautious when planning the times of these panels, forums and interviews so they do not overlap with each other and a student interested could attend all of them. The Istanbul Media Academy is offering certificates to the students who attended at least seven of the workshops we offered. This is really important for us and the amateur filmmakers as it is a chance that could help them take the first step into the industry. The interest we received from these newcomers is astounding and really gets us excited and offers us a glimmer of hope for the future concept of cinema in Turkey.
DS: You received 2,621 film applications from 111 different countries this year. How do you see the improvement and future development of Turkish cinema?
OŞ: In 2016, Istanbul was selected as the World Youth Capital. In this context, we gave space to the Islamic Conference for Dialogue and Cooperation Forum at our festival. This forum is organized in 57 different countries, and all 57 countries where notified about our festival. Under the title "Refugees, Tolerance and Istanbul," a short film competition was started. We received 850 film applications for this category as well. In terms of Istanbul being chosen as the World Youth Capital, we organized a very nice category for short films at our festival. This, along with the applications we received for the Boğaziçi Film Festival, shows us how many people are willing to contribute to the Turkish and world film industry, which is very important for us in the long-run.
DS: As it was in previous years, one of the prizes for the film festival is the Grand Ahmet Uluçay prize. What is the importance of this prize and what does it mean to you?
KK: When we look at Ahmet Uluçay's personal portrait, we can see that his life and film where so intertwined. He is a master filmmaker who has never turned his back on his homeland; he shaped Turkish cinema with his bare hands. Uluçay is a person who is now put forward as an example for all Turkish filmmakers and has shown us that nothing can be achieved without hard work. He taught us to be at peace with our homeland, accept the beauties it has to offer and contribute all we can to it with the films we make. The Grand Ahmet Uluçay Prize is one of the biggest prizes we have to offer, as the winner of this prize will win TL 50,000. In short, we can say that Uluçay is a symbol for filmmakers and a reminder to never turn your back on your homeland and the beauties if has to offer.