Semih Kaplanoglu is a Turkish screenwriter, producer and director, known for Egg (2007), Honey (2010) and Angel’s Fall (2004).
His films are characterized by metaphysical themes and distinctively authored use of cinematography. Kaplanoglu, who is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished and influential directors in Turkish cinema, has received 28 international awards and 10 nominations worldwide. His new film Grain won the Interfaith Award this year at Fajr.
In this interview, he talks about his comeback to FIFF and more:
You have been to Fajr many times before. Has it changed?
I’m very happy to be here. Last year I came to Iran as a friend of Abbas Kiarostami. I’ve been following the festival for almost ten years now, and I see that each year it’s better than before, and now it has become more known to the world. Besides, young people gather together from Iran and around the world at the event, and these new talents are the future of cinema. In my opinion, the festival is doing very well.
You won the Best Film Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and now you are here with Grain. Tell us more?
There is no film made to this extent and even in terms of the concept and what I have been looking for. I don’t remember a film in Turkish cinema that resembles mine.
Grain is a costly and ambitious film, shot in various countries and locations. How did you do that?
We were involved with the project for nearly five years. Grain is a coproduction of Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden, France, Qatar and Turkey. Its production took a long time to complete. But thank God we eventually made this film. We shot it in Turkey, Germany and the United States.
Part of the hard work is apparent from its various locations shaping a unified post-apocalyptic world. The influence of some science fiction movies, especially Hollywood films, is also obvious. Are you influenced by any specific film?
All of the film and even sections that represent a technological world are based on my own ideas, and I didn’t get ideas from other films. Right now, we have the internet and the mobile, but if we get away from the city, we may come to a land where no technology is found. The world of my film is based on reality.
Were you particularly concerned about the box office?
Let’s not forget that one who doesn’t lose his way never finds the right way. Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) says: My God, show me the truth of the world. My film takes its viewers to this particular journey – finding the truth, not the box office.
With director Reza Mirkarimi at helm of 2018, Fajr Filmfest heralded stronger comebacks from Asia, Europe and Middle East. Whatever one says of Middle East cinema and its power rankings, the region’s best and most powerful showcase for cinema is, has been, and for all foreseeable time will be this festival, which ran in Charsou Cineplex and other venues in the Iranian capital until April 27. Vahdat Hall hosted the awards ceremony, which was attended by Iranian officials and international filmmakers and guests, including Culture Minister Seyyed Abbas Salehi and American filmmaker Oliver Stone.