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Highlights from the 17th Akbank Short Film Festival screenings

Blog
Highlights from the 17th Akbank Short Film Festival screenings

17.03.2021

Text: Cansu Çubukçu

Akbank Short Film Festival has attained a pivotal role in Turkey’s cinema with a mission to expand cross-cultural creative interactions, support the productions of short films, and sustain constructive dialogues about this art form. The festival will be held for the 17th time between March 22 and April 1 to unite cinephiles once again with internationally acclaimed festival films, along with several premiere screenings. 90 shorts and 3 features were selected from a total of 2048 submissions, which were categorized as “Festival Shorts”, “World Shorts”, “Short to Feature”, “Experiences”, “Documentary Film”, “Special Screening,” and “Perspective”. The complete guide is available through the link here. Let’s have a peek at some highlights from the festival’s programme.

“World Shorts” consists of films submitted to the festival from various countries and were shortlisted after a pre-evaluation. Bastien Dubois’ Souvenir Souvenir and Joseph Catté’s Ad Lib from France, Joanne Cesario’s Here, Here from Phillipines, Zach Woods’s David from USA, Ali Asgari’s İran-French co-production Witness, Aylin Gökmen’s Sweden-Portugal co-production Spirits and Rocks: an Azorean Myth, William Hong-xiao Wei’s English-Chinese co-production Green Thoughts, Brusi Olason’s Dalia from Iceland, Mahdi Fleifel’s English-Danish-Lebanon co-production 3 Logical Exits, Raphaela Schmid’s Fish Like Us from Australia, Sameh Alaa’s Egypt-France-Belgium-Qatar co-production I am afraid to forget your face, A. J. Al-Thani’s The Black Veil from Qatar, Phạm Ngọc Lân’s The Unseen River from Vietnam and Leonardo van Dijl’s Stephanie from Belgium are in this category. 

“Festival Shorts” brings together the national competition finalists. Ceylan Özgün Özçelik’s Ankebût, Mahsum Taşkın’s Binbir Gece, Zeynep Dilan Süren’s Büyük İstanbul Depresyonu, Onur Güler’s Yara, Esme Madra’s Sarı, Siyam, Kanocular ve Ev Sahibi, Murat Uğurlu’s Tapınak, Öykü Orhan’s Paydos,  Ayris Alptekin’s Ondan Bahsetmiyorum, Serhat Karaaslan’s Suçlular, Emre Sert & Gözde Yetişkin’s Kısmet, Gökalp Gönen’s Lal, Engin Erden’s Ahtapot, Haydar Taştan’s Cengiz and Muhammed Günaydın’s Dur Bak Dinle Geç are competing in this category. 

Erdem Tepegöz is this year’s guest for the “Short to Feature” section, which involves insightful conversations about a filmmaker’s leap from short movies to feature-length productions. Tepegöz’s shorts Kafes, Mutlu Son and Değneksiz Sahne Işıkları as well as his multiple award-winning feature Zerre is included in the festival programme. Penned by Ali Tanrıverdi, Mutlu Son embarks upon the pointlessly debated question of the sector: “art-house or box-office?” As for Zerre, it follows the routine toil of a single woman struggling to make ends meet in a big city with her young daughter and sick mother. 

Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael, who earned the César Award for Best Foreign Language Film with Toto lé Heros (Toto the Hero) in 1992, is the guest of “Experiences” to talk about his inter-genre experience in the industry. His 1985 short È pericoloso sporgersi, a young boy’s confinement inside an impossible decision-making scenario, as well as The Shape are a part of the programme. In addition, the screening of his feature-length The Brand New Testament will heighten a sense of nostalgia. 

The "Perspective" section is shaped by the potpourri of new domestic and foreign productions, emphasizing diversity through different genres, different cultures, and different themes. Drawing an example from The Prophetess, German-Dominican filmmaker Sylive Weber exhibits the lives of Furaha and Venantine, sisters who are haunted by physical and psychological trauma. On the other hand, Deniz Telek's Anuş illustrates the education issues in Turkish villages through the relationship between a well-read teacher and a young girl. 

“Special Screening” recognizes the prominent talents from a specific region, of which the Far East was picked for this year. This section will also continue showing the recent productions of world cinema. For instance, Weijia Ma’s festival-savvy animation short Step into the River explores China’s controversial one-child policy with poetic cinematography. Linh Duong, one of the most important figures of contemporary feminist cinema in Vietnam, will participate with her quirky love story between a middle-aged woman and her high-school sweetheart, A Trip to Heaven.

We will host Rok Biček for the “Documentary Cinema'' section, where we have chats with successful documentary filmmakers about their practice. The discussions will focus on The Family, Biček’s 10-long project that, in his words, was “shaped by life,” in which he pursued an adolescent’s growth to adulthood while being raised by his mentally disabled family members.

Finally, in the “Forum” section of the festival, a screenplay competition and workshops will take place in order to support short films from their initial stages. This year, the winner will be announced from the 8 short-listed scripts among 687 submissions. Another highlight of “Forum” is a script-writing masterclass held by academic and script consultant, Gülengül Altıntaş.

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