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Istanbul Documentarist 2014

For seven years now, Documentarist — Istanbul Documentary Days has been offering the public of the lively and cinephile metropolis a specialized program of recent national and international production, as well as retrospectives. For the first time this year (from June 7th to 12th), the non-competitive festival founded by Emel Çelebi and Necati Sönmez hosted a FIPRESCI jury, which concentrated on a special selection from all over the world. It was therefore only a coincidence that the prize went to a local work: A Dream School in the Steppes (Tepecik Hayal Okulu), by Güliz Sağlam, for its ability to arouse curiosity and fascination even if there is no previous knowledge about its subject (the amazing filmmaker Ahmet Uluçay), thanks to a creative, intelligent vision and structure.

A Dream School in the Steppes.
FIPRESCI Prize: "A Dream School in the Steppes"

The other distinction presented at the festival is the Johan van der Keuken New Talent Award for a first or second Turkish documentary. The multidisciplinary jury chose Reyan Tuvi's Love Will Change the Earth (Yeryüzü Aşkın Yüzü Oluncaya Dek...) about the massive uprising that took place a year ago right next to the festival venues (located throughout Istiklal Street), to oppose the destruction of Gezi Park.

This year's Documentarist's program was structured around a Turkish Panorama, an International Panorama and three retrospectives: a tribute to Johan van der Keulen, a selection of Polish documentaries awarded at the Krakow Film Festival over the past five decades, and a special focus on Syria. It also presented tributes to outstanding filmmakers who have passed away in the recent months. The choice of combining films from different sections (with some screenings beginning with a Polish short film from the 70s followed by a recent feature from Syria, for example) underlined Documentarist's comprehensive view.

The small, human-scale event is clearly audience-oriented, and other than the films themselves, it offered the Istanbulites a variety of workshops, panels and encounters, as well as many screenings followed by enriching Q&A sessions with filmmakers from a wide range of backgrounds. (Pamela Biénzobas)

Istanbul Documentary (Dokumentarist — Istanbul Documentary Days, June 7-12, 2014). Prize: A Dream School in the Steppes (Tepecik Hayal Okulu) by Güliz Saglam (Turkey, 2014). Motivation: "For the film's ability to arouse curiosity and fascination even if there is no previous knowledge about its subject, Ahmet Uluçay, thanks to a creative, intelligent vision and structure. It is the filmmaking talent that brings the amazingly engaging character to life." Jury: Pamela Biénzobas, Chile ("Revista de Cine"), Steffen Moestrup, Denmark ("Le monde diplomatique", "Dox Magazine"), Özge Özdüzen, Turkey ("Yeni Film"). Print source:,


Portrait of an Anatolian Quixote. Pamela Biénzobas discovers a virtually unknown director, Ahmet Uluçay, who only completed one film and finds that Güliz Sağlam's documentary A Dream School in the Steppes (Tepecik Hayal Okulu) portrays one man's passion for life and love of cinema. arrow.
Love Will Change the Earth. In Steffen Moestrup's revealing interview, filmmaker Reyan Tuvi discusses how she randomly started filming protests in Istanbul's Gezi Park, not realizing at the time just how important the event and footage would become. arrow.
Glimpses from an Activist Film Festival. This year's festival was marked by an abundance of documentaries, glimpsing many social, cultural and political stories. Özge Özdüzen looks at some of the most prominent ones. arrow.



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Documentarist 2014

bullet. Index
bullet. An Anatolian Quixote
bullet. Love Will Change the Earth
bullet. An Activist Film Festival

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