100 years since Gallipoli: The first Turkish Film Festival in NZ

Something good happened in NZ this year.

Something culturally significant.

Something new.

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The first ever Turkish Film Festival launched in Wellington on Anzac Day with an exhibition in Peter Jackson’s Great War Hall, a gala dinner attended by loads of important people from both governments, NZ film industry representatives, military members and historians. There were two performances by Serenad Bagcan and an amazing shadow puppet show by Halit Eker prior to screening the first film on opening night. Press brats and VIPs were gifted commemorative chocolate from Whittakers and a cool ring, an imitation of the rings that Turkish villagers created from rifles left at Gallipoli. A sobering thought – but better a set of rings worn in peace than a rifle that can still kill.

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Organisers Switchon Media said the aim of this festival was “firstly to bring our two nations close together in peace and keep the Gallipoli spirit alive. And Secondly to bring Turkish film and culture to New Zealanders”. I think both of these goals were achieved.

There were 8 movies selected for the festival and I got to see 2. They were both great. I am sure all 8 are great.

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First up a comedy ‘Pek Yakinda’ (translates to ‘Coming Soon’). What an absolute classic. The story is about a dodgy DVD pirate – Zafar – who tries to save his marriage by producing a film – an old sci fi script dredged up from the 1970s – so he can put his wife in as lead actor and convince her he’s a man worth loving. He goes to great lengths…

The whole audience at the Rialto Cinema was in stitches. Mad Turkish humour, beautifully cinematically styled sets with bright saturated colours and over the top characters. Each actor fully committed to their role and it came across brilliantly.

Some moments movie buddy and I wondered how on earth did they come up with that? **SPOILERS** Left field plot twists like the famous actor with the deep voice revealing that his voice was actually that of another man who hid behind him and always spoke for him. Silly, and so funny. Zafar trying to remain anonymous as producer but ending up having to then do all the cooking because his ex wife ‘gets him a job on set’. Ridiculous. But so funny.

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A great movie. So much silliness.

 

Pek Jakinda Trailer:

 

 

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The second film I was lucky enough to see was ‘Eye of Istanbul‘, a documentary about Ara Güler, legendary photographer who has taken over a million photos so far, and is credited with saving the history of Istanbul using his lens. This was a really interesting watch.

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Ara Güler is 87 – he’s a real character – and he’s still taking photos.

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It was the little things he says that stuck with me, gems of photography wisdom, like how he’ll spend hours composing a photo in his mind; sitting to wait for just the right moment – when a bird flies past, when a person happens by. His compositions are beautiful, his photos magic.

 

A wonderful, interesting film.

Trailer:

 

I believe there’s going to be a way to view these movies again here in NZ so will update once I have more information. In the meantime, pencil this festival in for next year moviegoers.

“Using the medium of art we plan to introduce these distant nations; unifying people in peace and understanding. Every year we will stage a festival, to remind the people of New Zealand that there is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets. They are their mother’s sons.”

This event was funded by the Turkish Prime Minister’s Presentation Funds.

Çok teşekkür ederim.

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