Press release: Focus on Turkey at exground filmfest: Culture Beyond Borders
(Film still: YOL – THE FULL VERSION)

Press release, October 11th 2017

19 Short and Feature-Length Films // Two German Premieres // Supporting Program Featuring Music, Art and Discussion

This year, exground filmfest has chosen to devote its annual country focus to the extraordinarily interesting cinematic and cultural scene in Turkey. The Focus program features a total of ten feature-length fiction and documentary films, two of which will be celebrating their German premieres at exground: STONE (TAŞ) by Orhan Eskiköy and YOL – THE FULL VERSION by Yılmaz Güney/Şerif Gören. In addition, nine short films will also be shown in a separate program and as supporting films. Two further Turkish productions can also be found outside of the Focus program, in the International Short Film Competition. Finally, exground intends to trace the cultural and political developments taking place in the country in the scope of a diverse supporting program, featuring an informational event presented by amnesty international, a panel discussion, a video art exhibition and a concert and opening party brimming with beats from the Orient.

Andrea Wink of the festival’s organizational team on the selection of the country focus: “The lively discussions our audience has had with the filmmakers we’ve invited in the past have proven that there is a great interest in Turkish culture, but also in the difficult political conditions and their impact on the everyday lives of creative artists. We owe a special thanks to Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, without whose support we would not have been able to realise this country focus on Turkey.”


Highlights in Focus Film Program: Between Laughter and Contemplation

Featuring a variety of genres, the films of the country focus reflect social and political realities and shed light on conflicts both past and present.

“The short and feature-length films we’ve chosen illuminate the diverse forms of direct, subtle and subversive political expression present in contemporary Turkish cinema and invite viewers to engage in an open investigation of conceptions of nationality, culture, gender and memory,” explains Amos Borchert, curator of the Focus program. “In the process, these works, many of which are the result of international co-productions, demonstrate that culture – and particularly cinematic art – cannot be subsumed by national borders.”

The selected films, containing plenty of absurdity and black humour but not lacking in quiet and contemplative moments either, feature protagonists engaged in struggle, among other things for sexual self-determination and against repression at the hands of society, family and the state.

In Ceylan Özgün Özçelik’s INFLAME (KAYGI), young Hasret is confronted with increasing manipulation and censorship at the large news network where she works. After subsequently losing her job, she withdraws further and further into isolation within her own four walls, where her doubt is transformed into delusions of persecution and finally paranoia. The director celebrated the world premiere of this highly relevant work at this year’s edition of the Berlinale (Panorama Special) and will be on hand in Wiesbaden to present her film personally.

A further highlight in the Focus program is the German premiere of the restored version of YOL – THE FULL VERSION. The screenplay for the film, the most internationally successful Turkish-Kurdish production ever, was written in prison by Yılmaz Güney. The harsh portrait of Turkey after the military coup of 1980 received the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1982, although it was shown in an uncompleted version. In 2017 the fully restored completed version fully reflecting Güney’s wishes celebrated a new world premiere on the Côte d’Azur. Producer Donat Keusch is scheduled to attend the German premiere in Wiesbaden.

Emre Yeksan, the director of the exground opening film THE GULF (KÖRFEZ), will also make a personal appearance at the festival. In this Turkish-German-Greek co-production, a foul stench floats into the city of Izmir from the gulf, turning the aimless life of a young man on its head.

The life of Emine, the protagonist in Zeki Demirkubuz’s most recent drama EMBER (KOR), is also turned upside down when her husband Cemal is imprisoned in Romania. Emine is left to fend for herself alone in Istanbul burdened by debt and a sick son. Ziya, her husband’s former boss, offers his assistance; when Cemal is finally allowed to return to Turkey months later he notices the tentative affair between the two and resolves to go back to work for Ziya. Old master Zeki Demirkubuz will present his film in person at exground filmfest.

Mehmet Can Mertoğlu tackles a serious topic with an absurd comic touch in his film ALBÜM: A childless couple will do whatever it takes to be able to adopt a baby, so much so that they create a fake prenatal photo album full of staged memories. Director Mertoğlu will be attending the German premiere of this subtle social parable in Wiesbaden.


Focus on Turkey in Supporting Program: Freedom of Speech, Video Art and Anatolian Psych-Pop

exground filmfest will bear witness to the complex political changes occurring in Turkey in the scope of an informational event presented by amnesty international on the subject of “Freedom of Speech in Turkey” as well as a panel discussion with filmmakers and festival organizers.

The exground opening party at Kulturzentrum Schlachthof for its part promises plenty of relaxation and high spirits: DJ Mesut Kumanova from Frankfurt am Main and the Oriental Tropical Team will be taking revellers on a trip around the globe, bringing together Balkan funk, Oriental beats and Latin-American rhythms. And for the conclusion of the festival, the young Hamburg-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Derya Yildirim will also be playing an exciting mix of Anatolian psych-pop at Schlachthof with the international line-up of the band Grup Şimşek, featuring refreshingly original reworkings of Turkish cult classics.

Two video installations at Naussauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden pose questions about the relationship between science fiction and Utopian wishful thinking. While on the one hand Köken Ergun’s “I Soldier” observes the omnipresent entanglement of nationalistic politics with near voyeuristic camera work, in “The Kitty AI: Artificial Intelligence for Governance” Pinar Yolda’s ultimate governor Kitty AI cares for its citizens on a very personal level.

Focus Turkey @ exground filmfest

Film Program

Fiction Features
THE GULF [KÖRFEZ] (opening film)
Director: Emre Yeksan
Turkey/Germany/Greece 2017, 110 min., OV w/ English & German subs
Nov. 17th at 7 pm at Caligari FilmBühne, Wiesbaden
Nov. 21st at 7:30 pm at Pupille, Frankfurt am Main

Director: Zeki Demirkubuz
Turkey/Germany 2016, 113 min., OV w/ English & German subs
Nov. 18th at 5:30 pm at Murnau-Filmtheater, Wiesbaden

Director: Semih Kaplanoğlu
Turkey/Germany/France/Sweden/Qatar 2017, 127 min., OV in English w/ German subs
Nov. 19th at 7:30 pm at Caligari FilmBühne, Wiesbaden

Director: Orhan Eskiköy
Turkey 2017, 96 min., OV w/ English & German subs
Nov. 20th at 5:30 pm at Murnau-Filmtheater, Wiesbaden
German premiere

Director: Ceylan Özgün Özçelik
Turkey 2017, 94 min., OV w/ English & German subs
Nov. 23rd at 8 pm at Murnau-Filmtheater, Wiesbaden
Nov. 29th at 8 pm at Orfeos Erben, Frankfurt am Main

Director: Yeşim Ustaoğlu
Turkey/France/Germany/Poland 2016, 105 min., OV w/ English & German subs
Nov. 24th at 8 pm at Murnau-Filmtheater, Wiesbaden
Theatrical release: December 7th 2017

Director: Mehmet Can Mertoğlu
Turkey 2016, 104 min., OV w/ English & German subs
Nov. 25th at 8 pm at Caligari FilmBühne, Wiesbaden
Nov. 26th at 5:30 pm at programmkino rex, Darmstadt

A film by Yılmaz Güney; director: Şerif Gören
Turkey/Switzerland 1982/2017, 112 min., OV in Turkish w/ subtitles
Nov. 26th at noon at Caligari FilmBühne, Wiesbaden
German premiere

Documentary Films

Director: Ayşe Toprak
Turkey/France/Germany 2017, 87 min., OV w/ English & German subs
Nov. 20th at 8 pm at Murnau-Filmtheater, Wiesbaden
Nov. 21st at 10 pm at Pupille, Frankfurt am Main

Director: Aslı Öszarslan
Germany 2016, 71 min., OV w/ English & German subs
Nov. 25th at 6 pm at Murnau-Filmtheater, Wiesbaden

Short Film Program Focus Turkey
Nov. 23rd at 5:30 pm at Murnau-Filmtheater, Wiesbaden
Nov. 26th at 8 pm at programmkino rex, Darmstadt
Total running time: 82 min.

IT RAINS SLOWLY by Saeed Nejati, Turkey/Iran 2016
DANCER ON THE SNOW [KARDA DANS] by Esra Saydam, Turkey 2017, world premiere
AYHAN AND ME [AYHAN VE BEN] by Belit Sağ, Turkey/Holland 2016
BABA & SON – IM HAMAM by Deniz Zagli, Germany 2016
ROUND THE WORLD [DEVRİALEM] by Dilek Aydın, Turkey 2016, international premiere
SEVINCE by Süheyla Schwenk, Germany 2016

Turkish Short Films in the International Short Film Competition
ASPHALT by Süleyman Demirel, Turkey 2016, international premiere
SULUKULE MON AMOUR by Azra Deniz Okyay, Turkey 2016

Supporting Films
Supporting film for INFLAME: GUERNICA by Ezgi Pamir, German premiere
Supporting film for CLAIR OBSCUR: STRETCH by Çağıl Harmandar
Supporting film for DIL LEYLA: SEPT. – OCT. 2015, CIZRE by Belit Sağ

Supporting Program

Informational event presented by amnesty international
“Freedom of Speech in Turkey”
Nov. 23rd at 7:30 pm in the foyer of Murnau-Filmtheater

Panel Discussion
“Condemned to Being Political? Facets and Possibilities of Contemporary Turkish Cinema”
Featuring directors from the Focus program in discussion with festival organizers
Nov. 25th at 4 pm in the foyer of Murnau-Filmtheater

Party & Concert
The exground party with DJ Mesut Kumanova & the Oriental Tropical Team
Nov. 17th from 11 pm at Kesselhaus, Kulturzentrum Schlachthof Wiesbaden

Concert with Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek
Nov. 26th at 4 pm at Kesselhaus, Kulturzentrum Schlachthof Wiesbaden

Video Art Exhibition
with Köken Ergun (I Soldier) and Pinar Yolda (The Kitty AI: Artificial Intelligence for Governance)
November 4th to December 17th, Tues 2-8 pm/Mon-Fr 2-6 pm/Sat&Sun 11 am –6 pm, at Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden

The complete festival program will be available online from late October 2017 at
exground filmfest would like to thank all of its supporters and sponsors.