Ikilem Keeps Being the Center of Attention
Ikilem Keeps Being the Center of Attention
Basak Buyukcelen’s film ‘Ikilem’ was produced and premiered last year in Vancouver, Canada. Shortly afterwards it received Best Short Film award at II. Montreal Turkish Film Week, organized by Bizim Anadolu, and Best Student Film award at recent International Ion Film Festival. The film continues drawing attention.
We had a chance to interview Basak Buyukcelen:
– Can you tell us about the adventures of Ikilem after the premiere in Vancouver and the award in Montreal?
– Right after arriving in Turkey I was interviewed by Hurriyet Newspaper. The article brought the idea of screening the film in Turkey. It premiered at Kargart, a popular alternative culture and art venue in Istanbul.
Subsequently, ‘Ikilem’ appeared in the official selection list of Directors Circle Festival of Shorts, a popular festival of filmmakers. The film was amongst 70 films selected out of more than 3000 entries.
As ‘Ikilem’ started receiving more recognition, some universities proposed to use it for education purposes. I was invited to lectures and witnessed how well it was received by both undergraduate and graduate students. On one of these lectures a student came forward and said: “I enjoyed your film not only because I loved it cinematically but also because I found it parallel to what I am learning in my classes; full of sociological ascertainment, hand in hand with the theoretical knowledge I am receiving.” This statement made me really happy about what I achieved with my film.
Recently ‘Ikilem’ won ‘Best Student Film Award’ at Ion International Film Festival. At the award ceremony Nancy Bishop, the head of the Jury, told me that ‘Ikilem’ would receive a lot of international attention, especially in the States and I would receive support for my next film.
Then there was an article in Hurriyet Daily News, naming ‘Ikilem’ the most popular film of the festival and an interview in Aksam Newspaper about the film and its production process. Few days ago TRT Haber Channel invited me for an interview for their cinema program: ‘Ve Sinema!’.
– How was your film received after the Kargart and other screenings? Were there any specific scenes the audience showed reaction to?
– ‘Ikilem’ not only was found interesting in its content and making process but the audience was very intrigued by its closing scene. I left the film’s ending to viewers’ imagination and this created a variety of interpretations and discussions among the audience.
One of the most interesting interpretation was by T24 writer, dear Prof. Yusuf Eradam: “The symbol of desire: red coloured scarf, covering up the legs of the other woman, covers the head of the first woman is the visual and symbolic declaration that a woman’s virtue is not in-between her legs but inside her head.” According to Prof. Eradam, “Ikilem implicates the immolation of a woman in the hands of a dogmatic man, but it doesn’t waste the woman immediately. Instead it leaves the ending open to the audience, while it summarizes the men’s obsession of sexually virtuous woman by red color’s symbolism, the knife, the perineum, the skin and the open head.”
‘In Ikilem, Gafur- a religious man, runs into his wife’s identical twin -a prostitute- and interprets this incident as a sign of God and tries to convince the woman into choosing ‘God’s way’; while he experiences confusion and dilemma with the presence of other lives. Will Gafur be able to pull the prostitute to the ‘right path’ or will his God leave him alone in the ‘world of sins’? What about his wife who looks like the prostitute?!?’
– Were there any opinions regarding the length of the film; long or short?
– Viewers often mention that the film is too short and they would like to see it as a full feature film.
– You know most of the time when we come across a character that contradicts to what we believe and bother us in fictional / artwork; instead of discussing it, we prefer to cover it up. Therefore we prefer this kind of fictional work not be seen by others, especially foreigners. Thus we claim this kind of artwork distorts Turkey / Turkish people / a group of believers / beliefs. Did such approach happen regarding your film?
– There was an interesting discussion about this at the Q&A session of the Vancouver’s premiere. Although some members of the audience commented that I distorted Islam or presented a wrong picture of Turkey to foreign eyes, the film received overwhelming support from Turkish audience. So far the film could reach only festivals’ audience, who were prepared to see it as a piece of artwork. Once the film reaches broader audience, there will probably be more extreme generalizations.
– Are there new film projects coming up? What are your plans for the future?
– Of course… My new project is about an extremely religious and traditional woman and her acquaintance to the modern world, which resulted in her self-rediscovery. In order to research and create a base for the new script I made trips to rural areas of West Anatolia to document life of local women, their views and role in society. I am planning to have this new film finished in 2011.
Using this opportunity I would like to send my love and regards to members of Turkish Canadian Society and Turkish community in Canada for their support and warm welcome.
Director, Writer, Producer: Basak Buyukcelen
Actors: Cagri Berk, Ali Barkin
Ömer F. Özen / Bizim Anadolu / February 2011