Turkish films seek a new era in China

19 June 2013 22 h 26 min Comments Off

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(Hürriyet Daily News, Jun 18, 2013) While the Turkish cinema industry seeks new markets, the newly opened Shanghai Film Festival, which continues until June 23, is a new opportunity for Turkish films, say experts and directors.

This year’s Shanghai Film Fest is hosting Turkey as a guest of honor as part of the Turkish year in Chinaevents. The festival opened on June 15 and is hosting many Turkish films. The festival will continue until June 23.

Among the films is “The Taste of Poetry” (Şiirin Tadı) directed by Savaş Baykal, which will be competing for a Golden Goblet award, while Ömer Can’s movie “King of the Cotton” (Toprağa Uzanan Eller) will also be shown.

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, the director Can said it was very important to appear at the Shanghai Film Festival as the festival is one of the most important and international film festival in the region. “It is very important for the Turkish film industry to reach the Chinese market, because our film industry is not close to the Far East film industry.”

Noting that there are many initiatives to make Turkish films a part of the Chinese market, Can said this should be an important aim for the industry.

Parody of social problems 

Can’s movie focuses on Toprak, who is the middle child in a family that went to Çukurova as seasonal workers. He has never gone to school even though he is 6 years old and has not been given an identity card yet. His older sister is 15 years old and is forced by her father to be engaged to a man who is as old as her grandfather in exchange for a considerable dowry. Toprak’s younger sister, Zeliha, loses her sight after contracting poliomyelitis. Toprak can’t stand it when his sister is upset because his attitude toward her is very protective and he sort of plays the role of a father. He starts to tell her a fairytale in order for her not to notice the poverty and problems they experience. He expresses all the problems differently to his blind sister. In the fairytale the family has to go to the land of the King of Cotton and make her a sea of cotton in order to save the sick princess. Then they can ask the king for a wish and the princess will recover. Actually it is the epic and decorated account of their life. After a while the tale comes to such a state that Toprak starts to believe it as well just like Zeliha.

The movie, which is a parody of social problems of Turkey, also focuses on the culture of Adana. Can is from Adana and he knows the details and the industry of cotton in Adana. “I know this world very well. This is an important part of the film,” he said.

Savaş Baykal’s movie “The Taste of Poetry” is another culture and regional movie. It is about Mehmet, a father, who finds employment as a farmhand while his son, Okan, is attending school.

The importance of Chinese film market

Orhan Koçak, who supports the film “King of the Cotton” with the visual focus team, said the Chinese market is very important because after Hollywood and Bollywood the market is in the third place in terms of creating movies. “On the other hand, it took second place in box office figures,” said Koçak, adding that in 2012 more than 800 films were created in China.

“That’s why the movie producers are creating movies considering the Chinese market. This is a must,” said Koçak.

The Shanghai Film Festival is the Cannes fest of the Far East and Asia, Koçak said. “Chinese producers eye film producers at the film festival very closely, and that’s why this is a very important moment for Turkey.”

Koçak added that this would be a great opportunity for Turkey’s future in the cinema industry.

Golden Goblet award

This year’s seven-member jury panel is chaired by UK director Tom Hooper, who helmed the Oscar-winning film “The King’s Speech.” Other judges include French critic Michel Ciment, German director Chris Kraus, Iranian director Khosro Masoumi, Czech director Jiri Menzel, Chinese director Ning Hao and Chinese actress Yu Nan.

Hooper, on his first visit to Shanghai, said he was very excited to come to the city, a cradle of Chinese cinema. He is also impressed by China’s fast-growing film market. Ciment said the festival offers movie buffs a chance to watch a lot of foreign films.

It is the second time Yu, star of the 2007 Golden Bear film “Tuya’s Marriage,” is a Golden Goblet Award judge. Yu said her movie assessment principles would not change: The film should have a good and appealing story. “It is good to see the diversity and energy of Chinese cinema these days,” she added. “A lot more artistic films are now popular with the audience.”

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