ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
The otherwise dry season for movies seems rich in opportunity for short films. The social project and short-film competition Films of Conscience, along with the upcoming International Silk Road Film Festival, are both seeking submissions of short films. In another event, Ankara is celebrating shorts in its very first Short Film Days
A scene from "Megiddo," which will be shown during the festival in Ankara.
In the introductory video for Films of Conscience, a social project and short-film competition open to all, actress Serra Yılmaz, who appears with journalist Banu Güven and photographer Wilco Van Herpen, says, “Turn your camera toward your conscience.”
The competition is being organized by the International Hrant Dink Foundation, established after the assassination of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Dink two years ago, and was officially launched last week with the introduction of the Web site Vicdanfilmleri.org, where would-be competitors can upload their five-minute-max films.
The Web site opens with the black-and-white video featuring Yılmaz, Güven, Van Herpen and other artists sharing words of wisdom on conscience, such as: “My conscience is my voice. I cannot lie with my voice,” “Conscience is having your heart talk to you honestly” and “Conscience will wake you up.” Adds music legend Carlos Santana: “All people are capable of presenting more compassion, more kindness, more mercy, more forgiveness.”
‘Conscience searching for a way out’
The competition was inspired by a quote from fallen journalist Dink, who once said: “The voice of conscience has been sentenced to silence. Now, that conscience is searching for a way out.”
Organizers say the Films of Conscience event is “an invitation for all of us. To all of us, who can get a hold of a camera – any camera.” Visitors are asked to “take a look at the world through our cameras,” to “take a look at the world through our conscience” and to “share the visions, the perceptions of our conscience.”
The invitation is open to everyone, whether “a lonely woman walking on a roadside,” “a physically challenged person on a ‘normal’ street,” “a little child watching his parents’ hands rise for a blow,” “a woman imprisoned in her own home, trying to survive perpetual violence” or “a homosexual or transsexual in a world that imprisons sex and sexuality in sealed boxes.” These calls to the victimized, the oppressed and the underdog are meant to inspire and encourage every visitor to get involved in the project.
The Web site is in three languages, Turkish, English and Armenian. All the short films submitted will be evaluated by both visitors to the Web site and a jury consisting of acclaimed director Costa Gavras; musician Georges Moustaki; director and producer Harutyun Khachatryan; philanthropist İbrahim Betilİ actress Lale Mansur, Nebahat Akkoç, founder of the women’s nongovernmental organization KAMER; academic and writer Ömer Madra; Dink’s widow, Rakel Dink; Rela Mazali, a writer and founder of the New Profile movement; director Serge Avedikian; actress Yılmaz; writer and director Vaughan Pilikian; and writer Yıldırım Türker.
Shorts traveling Turkey
It is not usually easy to watch short films in Turkey, where they are generally screened only at film festivals, and even then, your chances of catching any are quite slim. But film fans can now watch nearly all of last year’s award winning and critically acclaimed short films at Ankara’s very first Short Film Days. Organized by the Ankara Municipality, the Short Film Days will screen 58 short films – including ones shown at last year’s Ankara International Film Festival, Festival on Wheels and Flying Broom Women’s Film Festival – every night at 9 p.m. at centrally located Sakarya Street until Aug. 30.
These days, Turkey seems to be full opportunity for those making short films. Last week, the winners of the Prince’s Islands Short Film Festival were announced in a closing ceremony. Organized by the Prince’s Islands Culture Society and Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University’s Cinema and TV Department, the festival has been celebrating short films and photography for six years. This year, a jury consisting of director and writer Feyzi Tuna, painter Tanju Demirci, cinematographer Eyüp Boz, and film critic Ömür Gedik gave the festival’s awards to newcomers Ozan Uzunoğlu, Serkan Karaarslan and Yüksel Özcan.
Filmmakers should also take note of the Golden Karagöz Short Film Competition, part of the ever-impressive International Silk Road Film Festival to be held in the historic city of Bursa in November. Submitted films must have been filmed in 2009 and contain no dialogue, monologue or any narrative voice. The 15 films selected for competition will be announced Oct. 3 on the festival Web site, Ipekyolufilmfest.org. The deadline is Sept. 11.