A Turkish Representative Of Italian Cinema

I had a very special conversation with Ferzan Öözpetek, who chaired the jury at the Golden Boll Film Festival in Adana last September.

Are there any directors new to Turkish cinema that you like or have been following recently?

There was a film of Seren Yüce’s called Çoğunluk (The Majority) that I really liked. There was Levent Semerci’s The Breath, which I also really liked. And then there is Ali Aydın’s film, ‘Küf’ (Mold), which won a prize in Venice.


So, can we say that Turkish cinema has acquired some serious momentum? Do you see it that way?

I do, because there is an enormous amount of experience and knowhow. I see the films that are being made. Besides the films themselves, the attitude of the teams making the films is also very earnest. I really like the atmosphere I’ve seen on the sets I’ve visited, because it’s great when everybody is completely involved in the film. They don’t do it like it’s just a job that will be over when the hour is up.

Are there any directors you’ve been following for a long time?

I take truly great pride in Nuri Bilge Ceylan, because his films are very much loved and appreciated, especially by a certain audience. His latest film, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, is still playing in Italy. There’s also Fatih Akın whom we ran into a little while ago at the door. Of course, they consider him a German and me an Italian!

Yes, I read that somewhere. You are seen as one of three Italian directors who is going to change Italian cinema. Gabriele Muccino, Nanni Moretti and you.

They call us the “Italian Spring” in cinema, because for the first time Gabriele Muccio’s Last Kiss, Moretti’s The Son’s Room and my film, The Ignorant Fairies, all got good reviews from the critics as well as being box office successes. But my subsequent films also got a positive response from both critics and audiences.

Do you see yourself as closer to Turkish cinema or Italian cinema?

I am close to the cinema!  In other words, I’m happy about my relationship with the cinema. Italy has given me a lot, of course. Italy is a very important country for me, because I went there when I was 17 and worked there as an assistant for 16 years. I worked with a lot of different directors and the Italians gave me a lot of other things besides.

You competed in the Golden Boll in 1997. Now you are chairman of the jury. What changes have you observed in the Golden Boll in that period?

I remember it vaguely, but the Golden Boll has changed over the years. For one thing, there has been a stronger cinema influence in the Golden Boll in recent years. They are paying attention now to auteur theory in cinema. That’s very important.

When you travel to a city for a festival, are you more curious about its modern face or its historical side?

I always want to see the heart of a city. Most recently, for example, I went to Moscow, and the first thing I did was to go to Nazım Hikmet’s grave. I was really curious about that. But apart from that, it’s the city center for me… the historic center.


Do you enjoy going to cities around the world where film festivals are held so you can follow the festival in person?

No. It’s very nice to take part in a festival, but when you don’t then you don’t attend. In fact, in my opinion you shouldn’t stay longer than three days at any festival. Let’s say, for example, a film of mine is at the Berlin Film Festival. I go, the film is shown on the second day, and the third day I have to get back.


Is there any place that you’ve seen in a film and want to go to?

Just the reverse happened with two films of mine! After the film The Turkish Bath, a lot of people decided to come to Istanbul because of the film. The number of tour groups especially from Lecce in southern Italy increased several-fold. There was a tour that took people to the locations where the film was shot.



Although Ferzan Özpetek, if he has time, first tours the city center in cities he visits for festivals, he advises friends coming to Istanbul to complete this tour as quickly as possible and then explore the city’s newer districts. Istanbul Modern and the shopping centers on the Levent Metro line are among his top recommendations.



The Rome Turkish Festival, of which Ferzan Özpetek is Honorary Chairman, is in its second year. In addition to Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who will receive a lifetime achievement award at the festival, which is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry for EU Affairs, Yılmaz Erdoğan is also among the guests.