The Vancouver Turkish Film Festival is returning for the second time this Dec. 4–7. This year’s VTFF is dedicated to women filmmakers, with 14 of the 29 films presented directed by women. The Vancity Theatre will be hosting the festival, which will feature twice as many films as last year.
With the support of the Turkish Ministry of Culture of Tourism as principal funder, this year’s VTFF has nearly doubled the number of films in its programming compared to last year. The Turkish film industry is so prolific, says Hakan Burcuoglu, founder of VTFF, that the festival requires a large selection of films in order to fairly represent the industry.
“[There are] too many good films to share. We just can’t help it,” he says.
An homage to women filmmakers
“I haven’t yet seen another country that comes quite as close to having such a representation of women filmmakers on the international stage,” says Burcuoglu. “This is astonishing for Turkey, let alone any country.”
Their gala film Not So Far Away was directed by Turkan Soray, a prolific actress, who is also the most recognized face of Yesilcam, the golden age of Turkish cinema, says Burcuoglu.
“MOTHERLAND by Senem Tuzen and Until I Lose My Breath by Emine Emel Balci are the two stand-outs that I think everybody should come out and see, “ says Burcuoglu.
He says that Muge Turan, Head of Film Programs at the Contemporary Museum of Istanbul, Istanbul MODERN, has also put together a short film showcase entitled Girls Keep Swinging.
The allure of Turkish cinema
“There is no denying the universal success of Turkish cinema- it has a certain aesthetic, which people have come to love, and more importantly, expect,” says Burcuoglu.
The strength of Turkish films, he says, is to tell “grounded, humble stories that resonate universally,” and do so with few ingredients.
“If cinema is indeed considered the art of subtraction, we excel at it. Vancouver cinephiles are seasoned – they have good taste and high expectations, ” he says.
Turkish cinema offers a variety of genres. Remake Remix Ripoff, a feature length documentary by filmmaker Cem Kaya, chronicles the zeitgeist of the most prolific era of Yesilcam, featuring extensive footage from domestic cult classics like Turkish Star Wars, Turkish Superman and even the Exorcist.
Burcuoglu, who went to McGill university and spent nine years in Montreal, admits to having a penchant for one of the films in particular presented at the festival: There Where Atilla Passes…
“[The film]” is set in Montreal and in his journey of self-discovery, the protagonist, Atilla, comes into contact with Turkish people from all walks of life. I felt some deep nostalgia when I watched that film. It’s probably the most sentimental film in the line-up for me,” he says.
A growing success
From the start, Burcuoglu wanted to bring Turkish cinema to Vancouver’s cinephiles.
“As a Turkish-Canadian cineaste who harbours a profound love for Turkish cinema, I always felt it was my responsibility to facilitate a platform that would introduce the best of contemporary Turkish cinema to this beautiful city,” he says.
The ‘table was set,’ says Burcuoglu of last year’s first VTFF, which took place in December of 2014.
“Naturally, we were unsure (and quite nervous) as to how it was going to be received. In the end Vancouverites gave us an astounding reception with seventy per cent occupancy and five sell-out shows,” he says.
VTFF has now become a part of the Golden Horn Film Festival family- a not-for-profit organization based out of Montreal whose mandate is to showcase Turkish cinema across major Canadian cities. After successful events in Montreal and Toronto, VTFF constitutes the third and final leg of the 2015 Golden Horn event calendar.
For more information or to get tickets, please visit the Vancouver Turkish Film Festival website: www.vtff.org.