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Looking Outside – Short Films from Turkey Made During the Pandemic

Looking Outside – Short Films from Turkey Made During the Pandemic

Altyazı Cinema Magazine’s supplement Altyazı Fasikül: Free Cinema invited independent filmmakers in Turkey to make short films focusing on the outside in times of lockdown. These short films were streamed between 26 May and 11 August 2020 on Altyazı’s YouTube channel. We are happy to share with you the entire library of the project. 

#1 Ghosts of the City – Fatih Pınar 
Fatih Pınar, outspoken video-activist and documentary filmmaker, turns his camera to the empty streets now filled with spectres that haunt the city’s past as well as the future.

#2 The Balcony and Our Dreams – Aylin Kuryel
Aylin Kuryel presents a selection of dreams from the first weeks of the coronavirus outbreak: the cravings, worries, and desires that are ‘quarantined’ in the depths of mind come to the surface.

#3 By the Shadow – Yiğit Durmaz & Efe Durmaz
Inspired from cinema’s predecessor shadow play, By the Shadow presents the story of a kid imprisoned in its own shadow.

#4 Inside – Elif Ergezen
In this poetic impression of life under quarantine, Elif Ergezen finds sanctuary in words, poems, and films; as she reads the letters of imprisoned lawyers who are on hunger strike demanding the right to a fair trial.

#5 Street Solidarity – Haydar Taştan
Filmmaker Haydar Taştan takes his camera to streets to accompany the members of Kadıköy Solidarity Network, a local initiative which supports people in the high risk group during the pandemic.

#6 The Statue – Sibel Tekin
Video-activist Sibel Tekin presents a compilation of images from the protests that took place in front of The Human Rights Monument (Ankara) between 2013 and 2020, until the lockdown.

#7 Walking the Streets of Diyarbakır – Özkan Küçük
An imaginary stroll in the streets of Diyarbakır, this short film is a letter to a lover, the love of freedom, and Diyarbakır’s historic city of Sur.

#8 The Lightwell – Begüm Özden Fırat
This short video lends an ear to the sounds that intensify inside an apartment block in the first months of the pandemic.

#9 On the Wings of the Butterfly – İlham Bakır
İlham Bakır turns the camera to his own family to record the physical and emotional effects of ‘working from home’ during the pandemic.

#10 The Bat Bird – Gökçe İnce
A fairy tale on the impossibility of a human being’s understanding of what it is like to be a bat.

#11 Remember the March – Güliz Sağlam
This short documentary exposes the latent asymmetry in the legal system when it comes to the violence against women. The anger around how the Law No.6284 is not put into practice is edited together with the images of women who demonstrated against male violence in times of the pandemic.

A common reflex of the governments worldwide against the rapid spread of coronavirus was to impose lockdowns, requiring people to stay home. At Altyazı Fasikül: Free Cinema, we decided to make an open call to filmmakers for a lockdown-themed video series. Our aim was to provide a platform to those who want to continue making films despite the restrictions of the lockdown. We also wanted to shine a light on the stories of people who don’t have the “luxury” of staying at home. Stuck inside, the filmmakers who responded to our call made films that look outside from their confinement. Hence the title of the project: Looking Outside.

The inspiration for Looking Outside came from all the fascinating documentaries that focus on domestic life or personal archives. For instance, Chantal Akerman’s experiments on recording personal home experiences from a feminist perspective, or Jafar Panahi’s images of filmmaking during house arrest, or Kirsten Johnson’s brilliant mash-up documentary Cameraperson (2016). We wanted to stimulate a wide range of filmmaking practices – ranging from video-diary or video-letter to found-footage – to portray various aspects of life under confinement and to imagine what will come after. By giving filmmakers such a platform for free artistic expression, we hoped to encourage and participate in this collective imagination for a new world after the pandemic.

The response we received from the filmmakers was as diverse as we could ever imagine. In Looking Outside series, you will find a wide array of topics, styles, and forms – ranging from the changing perception of time to the transformation of streets and cities; from the stories of people who had to be on the streets to the stories of people who had to stay inside; from the new communication technologies to the dreams under quarantine. We hope that the Looking Outside project presents a fresh perspective on the past, present, and possible futures. Being confined to the domestic space meant for many filmmakers revisiting and recycling their materials in stock. Excavating their personal archive, the video-activists, documentarists, and filmmakers that responded to our call brilliantly contributed to this fresh perspective. We hope that the Looking Outside collection adds to the global archive of images from the pandemic, and helps build a bridge from the personal to the collective and the dialogical.

The Looking Outside project premiered a new short film (with English subtitles) every Tuesday at 18:00, followed by an online conversation with the directors (held in Turkish). We are happy to share with you the entire library of the project.

Senem Aytaç & Fırat Yücel