“Men are in the gloom!”
Director Reis Çelik talks about his film, Night of Silence
in the National Competition. In the film on child-brides, Reis Çelik is
in obstinacy just like he was in İnat Hikayeleri. He puts such a strong
actor as İlyas Salman and a beautiful young girl in the marriage room
and never leaves the room. He makes us watch the film even without
breathing for 90 minutes. The film returned with a Crystal Bear from
Berlin Film Festival, and its journey in Turkey is the object of
interest. In opposition to those asking “Is this still happening in
Turkey in 2012?”, Reis Çelik believes that the film will be in demand
both during the festival and after it is released; and men will confront
themselves and change the fascist societies in the world.
Night of Silence will be screened on Monday, April 9 at Atlas Sineması at 19.00.
Interview: Ceyda Aşar
- You are interested in the hypocrisy in the society. Is
Night of Silence is some kind of revelation for what you have thought
I have been thinking about honour and religion for a long time. The
society tells the most lies on these two issues. This is a society of
lies. People are being killed because of their faith. People are being
murdered for honour. Defenders of honour are being dishonourable and
think it is allowable for them. A tribe murdering for honour can sell
their 12-year-old daughters to 50- or 60-year-old men without even
hesitating. If you say “You are a pimp if you sell a woman for money!”,
they will shoot you. I don’t target people or individuals in my films.
If you start your way by looking at the roots and reasons for these
structures in the society, only then you can say something. Hypocrisy in
the honour issue and the shame of child-brides are the result of
thousands years of patriarchal society. In order to prevent vendettas,
child-brides are getting married. There aren’t individual here, there
are only materials and victims of social judgements. My aim was to
discuss this and to express the situation men go through.
- The male character in the film is not just guilty of being
the groom of the child-bride. Do his “masculine” crimes in the past
serve for your emphasis on the pathetic situations men go through?
What we should discuss is the structure and place of men in the society.
I don’t like creating drama and tears. I don’t want people to cry for
“the poor little girl”. Doing this justifies the situation. When we look
at it dialectically, it is important to discuss what the dominant
character lived. The man should confront with himself. I don’t think our
time puts male into a pathetic situation. We are in a horrible point
that we stab a woman in the middle of the street. If the man cannot
confront with himself, you cannot get anything good from the family he
built, the religion he believed, and his social being. We can get a
result only from his fascism, because he builds a dictatorship. Fascism
of the society and individual is the biggest danger we will ever face.
Therefore, my story is based on the male.
- One of the personalities in the mirror is İlyas Salman
himself. You said that his statement “This nation has laughed at me for
years, but I never laughed at it.” impressed you. But you must have
thought of working with him before. Were you considering him even when
you wrote the script?
I cannot ever think about an actor while I’m writing. I decide
afterwards. I work with Tuncel Kurtiz for years. He was also somebody
excluded from Yeşilçam. He was angry, secluded and banished. However,
this time I needed a person with a more depressive look in his face,
somebody who will confront himself. I already knew how great İlyas
Salman is. I never doubted him. And I also felt guilty. Because he is a
great instrument and we don’t use him, we ignore him. Then I enlarged a
photo of him, and made some moustache. He was just like I wanted him to
be. In the set, I demanded detailed and difficult things from him like
“Can you do this with the right side of your mouth?” and he could do
them. He was such an instrument that you could make the sound you
wanted. I watched him acting in surprise. I am very happy to work with
İlyas Salman, ignored by this country, 24 years later.
- We know that similar situations are happening in Berlin and other places. So what were the reactions to “masculinity” issues?
Three screenings in Berlin and the theatre for 1400 people was full.
Nobody left after the screening and they waited for the Q&A. The
classical question was: “Is this still happening in Turkey in 2012?” And
my answer was: “No, that’s not what’s happening in Turkey in 2012. It’s
what’s happening in the whole world in 2012! Maybe in your country, men
don’t get married with 13-year-old girls, but they go to Thailand and
do the same thing!” And everyone was applauding.
Do you expect different reactions in the Istanbul Film Festival? Is winning an award also a reaction for your?
Making films is really hard especially if you are a part of the class
which makes movies by selling whatever they have. But I have a weakness;
I don’t have a concern about the competition, about winning an award.
This film will meet with people. I don’t think there will be anything
more exciting than feeling how the audience breathe when they see the
film. Will they give the reaction I wanted at times I want them to have a
tightness in the chest? After all these, it is enjoying to see that the
film is appreciated. I also want to add something: The film will be
released after the festival. If those who see Recep İvedik and
Fetih/Conquest will see Night of Silence and confuse the women
and men with common sense in this country, this will be the greatest
award for me. If this society can say “we watch that, but we watch this
also!”, if the audience can start the discussion with itself, I think
that will be the turning point for Turkey.
- So what was the turning point for your cinema? Do you realise the difference in yourself from your first film to today?
In my first film, I stood out and cried: “Stop! We are killing each
other!” As an artist, I felt the need to cry out. In the second film, my
aim was to tell something after I got heard. I did not yell, but I
talked. I talked about the lies and Deniz Gezmiş. In my third film, İnat Hikayeleri,
I realized that what I was telling was listened to. Then I started to
talk about myself. After my third film, it was my time as a semiskilled
cinema worker and I expressed myself more delicately. I started the way
through the tradition of telling tales and expressed my story in detail.
I have many more stories to tell. We have many issues to talk about and
discuss in this country. When I was young, I saw the lights in Ardahan
and thought it was legendary and unreachable. Then I looked at Istanbul
from Ardahan, at Turkey from Istanbul. I realized that we have only one
world, this is the only place where we share together. We have to talk
everything to the rest of the world. Our exhaust fumes don’t just poison
Istanbul. The world started to realise that there is no difference
between the cry of a woman from Afghanistan and Germany.