The young director Burak Çevik was a special guest of the 37th Fajr International Film Festival, and his latest film, Belonging, screened at the International Competition (Cinema Salvation) section.
Burak Çevik completed his undergraduate program in Cinema at Istanbul Bilgi University. He established the experimental cinema society, Fol in 2014 and curated various screenings. He produced the creative-documentary feature film Meteors directed by Gürcan Keltek in 2017. It was selected in the official competition of the 70th Locarno Film Festival in the Filmmakers of the Present section and won Swatch Best First Film Award. After his debut, The Pillar of Salt (2018), Belonging (2019) is his second feature film.
That was the Asian premiere of your film. How was it?
I think FIFF is very important, and I’m very happy to be part of it. So far I didn’t have any communications with the audience, but I’m very curious about their reactions. I’m very proud that my film is in the International Competition section.
With your experience from other festivals, how do you see FIFF?
The festival is too big, and the Film Market too. You can’t communicate with people. You need space and you have to share things with other people, but you can’t do it here and it is very important. On the other hand, in other international festivals, it is difficult to spend some time with other filmmakers, producers, and audience, but here you have such an opportunity.
You are a young filmmaker. How could you manage a co-production film?
This is my second film. I was at the Berlinale with my first film too. Last year when my first film, a Turkish film and not a co-production, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, I started developing this film. I made connections with production companies from France and Canada. We became good friends and they believed in my vision and the story. After that, they supported me and we started to work together.
What were the reactions to your film at the Berlinale?
They got surprised because most of the people from international festivals expecting some social realist Turkish film. In this case, they saw something different in a storytelling way and maybe in a new cinematic language. First, they didn’t know how to react, and I understand it. But in general, I think reactions are better than my first film. With Belonging, I went to New Directors, New Films program at Lincoln Center and the MOMA in New York, and some other festivals. So Festival Circuit is going well, and after the FIFF, I will go to China, Singapore, and Transylvania.
What about indie films and young filmmakers in Turkey?
There is a new generation of filmmakers in Turkey. They take risks of telling stories in new ways, and some of them working on a very limited budget.
Do you like any Iranian filmmaker?
Of course, everybody likes Abbas Kiarostami, and my favorite films are Close-Up and Taste of Cherry. I don’t categorize films as a good one or bad, I categorize them as they have ideas or no ideas, and Kiarostami had great ideas.
Experimental filmmaking is difficult because you somehow breaking the rules and it’s very hard to make sense with a new cinematic world.
I think Belonging is a playful film and play with its audience. When you do a film and telling a story, you must think about how you want to tell it. I can’t make a mainstream film because it’s too boring for me. In fact, I don’t want to spend two years of my life doing that. I like to try new ways and experience. Meantime, I know it isn’t for everyone, and no one can like every film. So if you really bored, you can leave the theater. It is your time, and time is precious. But then, if you are patient enough or open enough, there could be something for you. Generally, everybody wants to understand every film and then label it and put it somewhere. But understanding the world or a film or anything is just one way of communicating. In fact, people think they can understand everything but what do we know? Nothing. We are just human.
The curtain fell on the 37th Fajr International Film Festival on Thursday, April 25. Vahdat Hall played host to the closing ceremony, which was attended by Iranian and international filmmakers and guests.