Film Forward in Turkey

Turkey is rich in history, culture, and tradition and is literally where east meets west divided by the Bosphorus. It is an ideal location for a Film Forward program with its many ethnicities, religions, and cultures. Its unique geography positions it between Asia and Europe, and thus creates endless encounters of cultural exchange.

Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue is an initiative of Sundance Institute and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Its goal is to engage audiences both in the U.S. and around the World to inspire curiosity, understanding, and an awareness of shared values through the medium of film.

Photo by !f istanbul.

Film Forward travels the globe and partners with local organizations and embassies to exhibit films and hold meaningful discussions, Q&A’s, panels, and master classes that support an engagement between filmmakers and audiences and foster broader cultural dialogues. There are three main audiences that Film Forward focuses on: underserved audiences, students and youth, and artist communities. In Turkey, Film Forward is able to reach all three of these groups with the partnership of our two presenters, !f Istanbul Film Festival and the U.S. Embassy in Turkey. It is essential we reach underserved audiences, who may not always have the opportunities to have their voices heard and the exposure to alternative perspectives. In that vein, student and youth groups are equally as important as they are the next generation, and often their opinions are underrepresented. And, our third group, artists are our storytellers; their greater understanding and experiences will inform and inspire audiences through the creation and dissemination of their work.

!F Istanbul reaches all three of these groups and is delighted to be one of the presenters worldwide selected for the program. We in turn are thrilled to be here with two Film Forward filmmakers, Cherien Dabis (Amreeka) and Havana Marking (Afghan Star). The topics of these two films are rich in content and we are looking forward to many dynamic discussions with !F’s audiences. Amreeka, is a semi-autobiographical story about Cherien’s family’s experience as Palestinians living in America during the start of the first Gulf War. Afghan Star is a documentary that looks at the process of democracy through an American Idol-like contest in Afghanistan, where contestants risk their lives to sing.

Photo by !f
Photo by !f istanbul.

!F Istanbul AFM International Film Festival was founded in 2001 and every February it hosts a diverse audience of over 70,000 film enthusiasts and filmmakers. It is a great opportunity for Film Forward to be an official part of the Festival and highlighted with a section dedicated to Film Forward films. Film Forward filmmakers will participate in Festival Q&A’s as well as special panel discussions and master classes, designed by the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program. Michelle Satter and Alesia Weston from the Feature Film Program are here with us and everyone is looking forward to the script writing panel and the Sundance Institute Case Study: Amreeka Script to Screen. We are thrilled that we are able to partner with other Sundance Institute programs to enrich the Film Forward experience.

After !F Istanbul we will travel with the U.S. Embassy and members of !F to Eskişehir (four syllables) and Ankara to screen the films and have more Q&A’s with university students. We will be hosted by Anadolue University in Eskişehir and Ankara University in Ankara. At Anadolue, film students will have the opportunity to present their work to our Film Forward filmmakers and receive feedback. Havana Marking will conduct a workshop on “How to Make a Documentary” and Cherien Dabis will present her case study: Amreeka Script to Screen at both Anadolue University and again at Ankara University. There is much anticipation on the discussions that will be generated and perspectives that will be shared in a University setting.

Check back soon and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and post your comments on our website. Let us know if you attended one of the films or discussions. Let us know the questions/concerns/comments you have about the issues these films raise and the culture we are presenting them in. More to come…

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