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Ayvalık’s unique film festival

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Ayvalık has long been known as a resort town to which Istanbul and Ankara residents flock during summer. Its Aegean architecture, cuisine, and culture as well as its balmy climate continue to lure local and foreign tourists.

Many prominent businessmen such as the Koç, Sabancı and Boyner families, as well as artists have bought second residences in Ayvalık.

What is more, Ayvalık now hosts an international film festival. The Ayvalık Film Festival, organized for the second time this October, differs from ordinary film festivals as it does not have a film competition but emphasizes discussions and workshops bringing together students from 6 universities and 4 cities.

We spoke to Azize Tan, the Project Director of Başka Sinema (Another Cinema) about the Ayvalık Film Festival and the difficulties of independent film-making.

For many years you worked with IKSV (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts) which organized Turkey’s first international film festival of Turkey, you were the film director of the festival. Was it an adventure to move to Başka Sinema?

Every change one makes after having been in one place for a long time is an adventure! I spent 20 years at IKSV. It is definitely a big part of where we are today… Başka Sinema is an independent film distribution company founded in 2013. I was following their work with appreciation. I have been working for Başka Sinema since 2016.

Isn’t independent cinema very difficult in Turkey?

It’s actually difficult anywhere in the world. It has become very hard to find financial resources. For independent film makers, it’s more about surviving and making films, rather than making money. We have some problems like the Ministry of Culture being the only source for funding, so we can’t make the films we want… Turkey also lacks access to certain funds because it’s not a member of the EU. The budget goes up in the case of a joint project.

The new cinema law regulation is criticized for monopolization and censorship…

I wish the industry had arranged commercial relationships internally, rather than through a law that came from above. We should also be talking about lack of dialogue within the industry itself. A movie theater chain becoming a monopoly, deciding film distribution all by itself, these could have been prevented with a better organized industry. Başka Sinema was partially founded for these reasons.

Let’s talk about Başka Sinema. How was it founded?

When there were not enough theaters to distribute Haneke’s “Amour” back then, the two partners of Başka Sinema, Bir Film and Mars Production came together to create a new alternative distribution........

© Duvar English