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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.




On April 7, 2011, the IFF opened with...


• A “COMING OF AGE” STORY FOR ADULTS Limbo director Maria Sødahl and lead actress Line Verndal met their audience in Istanbul for the second time. Sødahl said the final act of Sonia in the film meant that she chose freedom. She said that the relationship between men and women are universal and that Limbo was a “coming of age story” for adults.

• IN HOMELAND Syllas Tzoumerkas, the director of Homeland, which recounts three political periods in Greece since the 1950s through the story of three generations of a family, answered questions from the audience following the film’s screening in Beyoğlu Movie Theatre. He said, “The most important question in the film is what happens when you suppress violence and what happens when you cannot hold it anymore and it erupts.” Tzoumerkas said the generation that lived through the junta period treated their children badly and their grandchildren well and that this laid at the root of the clashes in the film.

• 30 YEARS IN FILM WITH DORSAY During the chat at Akbank Sanat, film critic Atilla Dorsay related his experiences since the start of the Festival, celebrating its 30th anniversary. He said that the first year of the Festival was named “Film Days” and the event comprised of six films. The following year, the number of films had increased to 20, and it was separated from the Istanbul Festival, was moved to the month of April, and became an independent event on its own. Dorsay also related how a three-person supervising state committee had censured the films, how Şakir Eczacıbaşı struggled against them, how they had to cancel the screenings, and how they had difficulties in explaining the situation to the films’ directors who had come to Istanbul. He said that the presence of Elia Kazan in the demonstration they held against censure effected the day’s government and that the censure was thereby lifted.

• COUNTDOWN WITH LUCY WALKER The day’s final Q&A was held with renowned documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker, who directed Countdown to Zero and Wasteland. Collaborating with Lawrence Bender, the producer of Inglorious Basterds and An Inconvenient Truth, Walker draws a scary panorama of the threat created by nuclear weapons by hosting experts and world leaders in her documentary. She said they had a 20-days fast and difficult preparation period. Walker objected the view that the film was advocating the American stance and said, “When I say we should abolish nuclear weapons, I am talking about a universal abolishment.”


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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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