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Istanbul Film Festival

The largest, most established and most influential film event in Turkey, the Istanbul Film Festival has over the past 30 years, presented Istanbul audiences with a total of more than 3,250 films, showcasing the cinema of 103 countries, and attracting a total audience number of 3,150,000. With an audience of 150,000 in 2011, it is also considered the biggest Turkish film festival. Established in 1982 as a film week, and accredited by FIAPF in 1989, the Festival aims at encouraging the development of cinema in Turkey and promoting films of quality in the Turkish market. As such, the Festival incorporates the Meetings on the Bridge platform, and within the frame of this programme, a competitive Feature Film Project Development Workshop that was initiated in 2008, and a Work-in-Progress sidebar in order to support the Turkish film industry and Turkish film professionals. In 2015, the MoB began to accept submissions from neighbouring countries.

The Istanbul Film Festival features an International Competition (limited to films on arts and the artist or literary adaptations) with a monetary award of a total of €25,000 as its grand prize the Golden Tulip. Showcasing Turkish cinema as the most active promotional, international platform in Turkey, the Festival features a National Competition, A National Documentary Competition, and a Human Rights in Cinema competition endorsed by the Council of Europe. The festival each year screens around 200 feature films, and takes place in April.



Q&A with Belmin Söylemez at Istanbul Film Festival

Present Tense, a Golden Tulip National Competition film, is
the debut fiction feature of Belmin Söylemez, who is renowned with her
documentaries. The film is about an unemployed, lonely and unhappy woman
who saves money in order to go to the United States. It bridges over
the past, the future and today through coffee reading.

Present Tense will premiere on Saturday, April 13 at 21.30 at Atlas Sineması.
Interview: Ceyda Aşar

- Your film in which you also tell about Istanbul competes at
the Istanbul Film Festival. Does that have a special meaning for you?

Sure. Istanbul Film Festival is special for all of us. It is the
festival of our city, which introduced and made us love cinema. My film
takes place in Istanbul. There is a lot about Istanbul in the film. We
see the urban transformation on the background. The Istanbul we lost is
in the film. Therefore, it is very exciting for me to have the first
screening in the festival. However, of course there cannot be a festival
without Emek Sineması. I wish films were screened at Emek... Besides,
the competition selection is quite well. There are a lot of good films.
It is great chance for me to be with these films.

- You talk about a transformation in the lifestyle and a
fragmentation at the same time. As this is your first film, does it have
any elements corresponding with you?

My starting point was especially the despair and disappointment of the
young generation. Dissatisfaction of expectations, unemployment,
disappointment in relationships, and unfitting into the society...
Desire to leave everything behind, to escape from the country they live
in and to start a new life... Few of us had the courage to do that. A
lot of people around me experienced this at some point in their lives.
I’ve gone through that too. I had the idea of filming the effort of
leaving in mind. There are some liabilities in the visa form. If you are
unemployed, you have to find a job. Until you take care of all the
requirements, your future is totally obscure. You are in-between. You
live in a tight space. The name of the film, Present Tense,
comes from here. My first idea was to start out from the visa form. You
look at the questions and you don’t know what the answers are. Because
you are not a person any more. You are just the answers in the visa
form. Then the idea changed, transformed, and this story came out.

- Coffee reading represents an obscure “future”. Does it have any other meanings for you?
Coffee reading is also a means of communication and it is used as a tool
for sharing hopes and self-reckoning by the main character. It is a
kind of therapy in this tight situation.

- You participated the Meetings on the Bridge section of
Istanbul Film Festival with this project. Although you did not receive a
support award, what did you learn from the process?

I heard many different ideas from many different people. It has
motivated me that many people liked the story. It is quite important
that you present your film as a project; however, film is a visual
language. You have to transfer your short films or your visual language,
which will represent you, into that platform. People should not just go
there with a project on paper.

- Are there any films in the festival programme that you won’t miss?
Alpis and L. I am interested in “What’s Happening in
Greece?” section. I follow the current Greek cinema. They are on a
different road in terms of both language and narrative.


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About Istanbul Film Festival

The most comprehensive and oldest international film festival in Turkey. Established in 1982, it screens more than 200 films of various genres, and has an extensive Turkish features showcase. The Golden Tulip Grand Prize of the Festival has a monetary award attached.



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