“For the first Tatar-Turkish film we are going to invite artists from different countries”
What prospects Turkic cinematography has and what the first film of Tatarstan and Turkey will be about
Kazan hosted the International Turkic Film Festival for the second time last weekend. It is noteworthy that Tatarstan actively supports the Turkic and Muslim film industry in general and regularly hosts such events. Realnoe Vremya decided to find out the situation and prospects of Turkic cinema and the participation of Tatarstan in film projects first-hand in a talk with Khodzhakuli Narliyev, director and chairman of the Association of Cinematographers of the Turkic World, and Bayrammukhamed Bayrammukhamedov, director in foreign affairs of Turkic World documentary film festival.
“The number of participants grows year after year”
Could you explain how the idea of holding such festivals appeared? What led up to it? Why is it unique?
Khodzhakuli Narliyev: We, Turkic people, have a common history that is rich in events, which are contradictory at times. When cinema appeared, it was impossible not to shoot and not to show this history to people. We’ve shot many films about different countries, different ethnicities but with a common history. The distribution system ran smoothly in the USSR: every film was shown almost in all the cities and even in remote settlements. So at least 5-6 films a month were shown. After the dissolution of the USSR, the distribution system stop functioning. Now there is television, but the films that were popular in the Soviet Union have become obsolete now. But it turned out that there is no opportunity to show old films but expensive to shoot new ones. This is why we show what we have, and this has been possible thanks to such festivals.
Why do people need such festivals?
K.N.: You know, when I stepped on the stage to give a welcome speech on the first day of the festival, few people were in the hall. Today, at the closing ceremony of the festival, the hall was full. It means that the festival is interesting for people, and they should be held more often to cover a bigger audience, to steal their heart. And the goal of such festivals is precisely to sow sprouts whose seeds are carried by film’s authors' into spectators’ souls.
The festival can be called a traveller. Universities of the Turkic world countries are our partners. 12 films are chosen after the festival ends, which are then transmitted in the countries the partner universities are located in
Bayrammukhamed, you work on the organisation of Turkic World documentary film festival. Could you explain why it is peculiar?
Bayrammukhamed Bayrammukhamedov: When we were considering the creation of this festival, we wanted to say about our culture and legacy, to know more about each other. The number of participants grows year after year, and this year the festival will be held for the fourth time. The festival can be called a traveller. Universities of the Turkic world countries are our partners. 12 films are chosen after the festival ends, which are then transmitted in the countries the partner universities are located in.
Khodzhakuli, this question is for you as a scriptwriter of six films. How is the idea for a film’s plot chosen? Is there any secret of writing scripts?
K.N.: This can’t be scheduled or decided in advance. Every scriptwriter sees a part of history if the film is historical or some real-life case if it is a feature film. Sometimes I have orders to make films on a certain theme, but even in this case films turn out unique because I will repeat that every person has one’s own perception. Personal experience, undoubtedly, allows making a film better, but the theme comes out itself.
“We’ve already found a location for the shooting in Turkey”
Where is Turkic cinema promoted today?
K.N.: We should note that the serious work on Turkic cinema promotion has begun relatively recently. We are trying to renew the distribution system like it used to be in the USSR, at least in Turkic-speaking countries. The acquaintance of people with Turkic cinema also takes place at such festivals as today. By the way, I would like to thank the Government of the Republic of Tatarstan, the Ministry of Culture and Tatarfilm for this.
As for Tatarfilm. Turkey and Tatarstan in the person of Tatarflim are going to shot the film Safa and Sazhida for the first time. Can you tell us about this project in detail?
B.B.: This film will be based on Makhmud Galyau’s Migrants novel. The film is going to have two key themes: the fate of forced migrants and love. The action began in the 18th century and ends in the early 20th century with the Russo-Japanese War. Now we are holding talks on how to improve the script, how to shoot the film in a more interesting way and with higher quality. We’ve already found a location for the shooting in Turkey — it is Turkish Osmaniye village where ancestors of migrants began to live and their descendants live today.
We should note that the serious work on Turkic cinema promotion has begun relatively recently. We are trying to renew the distribution system
K.N.: A big part of history is considered in the film, a tough period in the life of the Tatars when they were made to convert into Orthodox Christians. People who disagreed moved to Turkey, but the migrants still felt homesick.
How will the cast be selected? Are only Tatarstan and Turkish actors and actresses going to participate?
B.B.: We want to invite famous artists from several Turkic-speaking countries to the shooting besides Turkey and Tatarstan. We want the film to have a big geographical footprint, while the presence of compatriots in the cast will attract the locals in the countries the film will be transmitted.
What future awaits Turkic cinema? What is planned to be done to develop the film industry of the Turkic world?
K.N.: We plan not to rest on the laurels but shoot and bring more films. We also want to create joint film production: for instance, a team has a director and operator from different countries. This will expand the geography of film production, attract new spectators. Now we’re looking for partners to make it real. In a word, we just should start and move forward.