Diaspora communities enrich not only the countries they live in but they also can impact their homeland through a number of fields that prominently embrace art, free thought and creativity. To show the value that these communities have added to their countries by believing in the power of diaspora art, the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) launched a short film festival in Istanbul’s Atlas Cinema between Aug. 27 and 29 of this year.

The Diaspora International Short Film Festival aimed to host filmmakers from different diaspora communities in order to establish a positive bond between these filmmakers and Turkish directors via the unifying power of cinema. In line with this anticipation, the organization accepted movies that are no longer than 20 minutes and that focus on the issues of identity, multiculturalism, multilingualism, harmony, coexistence, cultural interaction, social tolerance and migration.

A still shot from “Wedding Photo (“Wedding Photo”).  (Courtesy of YTB)
A still shot from “Wedding Photo (“Wedding Photo”). (Courtesy of YTB)

The organizers made a special effort to give a place to movies that reflect the life of diaspora societies through a realistic and artistic lens in the selection of the festival. As a result of their evaluation, 12 movies were selected in each of the two categories of the event: “Films in Turkish” and “Films In a Foreign Language.” Let’s take a quick look at the finalist movies to better understand the festival’s scope.

Among the films in “Films in Turkish” category are “28,” “Brigitte Bardot,” “Climate Change” (“Climate Change”), “Paradise” (“Heaven”), “High Altitude or the Strangeness of Things” (“ High Altitude or Awkwardness of Things”), “July” (“July”), “Sesame,” “The Color of Time” (“The Color of Time”), “Delivery” (“The Delivery”), “Arbitrator” (“Arbitrator”) The Game”), “Turning to Dust”) and “Wedding Photo (“Wedding Photo”).

In “28,” director Nazim Sherbetov talks about the dreams of a woman who lives in Holland and who falls asleep during the war in Karabakh. This dream brings back the bitter memories she had in Shusha after the war.

Filmmaker Çağıl Bocut focuses on the story of a Turkish family in his “Brigitte Bardot.” While this modern family expects an exchange student from France who will accompany their daughter during the summer period, they do not find their visitor “French” enough after meeting him.

A still shot from “Toz Olmak” (“Turning to Dust”). (Courtesy of YTB)
A still shot from “Toz Olmak” (“Turning to Dust”). (Courtesy of YTB)

Gülden Gevher Öz and Olcay Seda Özaltan center their coproduction “Cennet” on the story of two close friends from Muslim and Jewish families. In the story, Merve was born to a Muslim family while Rachel’s parents are Jewish. A friendly consolation chat between the two girls prompts an awareness that it is possible for all of them to be together.

Cemalettin Baş’s “Düğün Fotoğrafı” tells the story of Reyhan, who dreams of taking a photo with her wedding dress. However, there is a dispute between the photographer and his father-in-law, which results in Reyhan not being able to take the photo.

Roman Hodel describes the reactions of a referee to the pressures during a football match in his “Hakem.” While everyone from the presenters to players to audiences watches him, he has to decide and direct the energy of an entire stadium.

Yasemin Demirci’s “Iklim Değişimi” presents the feeling of alienation experienced by a young girl named Iklim. Moving to London to complete her university education, she cannot cope with her new life due to the cold behaviors of people in this city, which causes her past anxiety issues to resurface.

A still shot from 'Hakem' ('The Game'). (Courtesy of YTB)
A still shot from “Hakem” (“The Game”). (Courtesy of YTB)

Sami Morhayim’s “Susam” presents a story revolving around the bar mitzvah ceremony. The Bahar family faces a series of dilemmas on the morning of the older brother’s bar mitzvah ceremony with the limitations of Shabbat rules.

In “Temmuz,” Sezer Salihi introduces a character named Metin, who is celebrating his birthday with his friends. But he remembers his birthday on July 25, 1963, one day before the earthquake that destroyed 80% of the city of Skopje.

“Teslimat” by Doğuş Özokutan presents the experiences of Yusuf, who takes on the job of transporting refugees in his refrigerated meat truck, believing this is the only way he can find money to save his daughter’s life.

Hüseyin Aydın Gürsoy’s “Toz Olmak” brings a tragic story of a family. Living and working in France with her husband, Elif does not want to return to Turkey to offer a better future for their son.

Emir Külal Haznevi’s “Yüksek Irtifa ya da Şeylerin Tuhaflığı” tells how 8-year-old Zehra accidentally saved the life of her uncle, who was a worker in Germany, while Hatip Karabudak’s “Zamanın Rengi” deals with the struggle for existence of 12-year-old Ali Raşid, who came to Istanbul to escape from the war in Syria.

A still shot from “High Altitude or Awkwardness of Things”.  (Courtesy of YTB)
A still shot from “High Altitude or Awkwardness of Things”. (Courtesy of YTB)

In the category of “Films In a Foreign Language,” the finalists are “3 Logical Exits,” “A Year in Exile,” “Bj’s Mobile Gift Shop,” “Flowing Home,” “Henet Ward,” “I Don’t Feel At Home Anywhere Anymore,” “Leftovers,” “Malabar,” “Nha Mila,” “Number 10,” “The Affected” and “The Virgin, The Old Lady, The Journey.”

Mahdi Fleifel’s “3 Logical Exits” presents a sociological analysis of the different solutions and experiences of young Palestinian refugees in order to eliminate the bad living conditions in the camps.

“A Year in Exile” by Jason Master Malaz depicts the first year of a young immigrant in Istanbul.

Jason Park’s “Bj’s Mobile Gift Shop” is about the story of a young Korean American swindler who owns a mobile gift shop in the city of Chicago.

Sandra Desmazieres’s “Flowing Home” revolves around the story of two sisters who grew up in Vietnam but who were separated between the North and South due to the war.

A still shot from “28'. (Courtesy of YTB)
A still shot from “28″. (Courtesy of YTB)

In “Henet Ward,” Morad Mostafa focuses on the tense moments between Sudanese painting artist Halima and the bride she met at a wedding.

Viv Li’s “I Don’t Feel At Home Anywhere Anymore” is a sad but humorous story of an art student who has been abroad for 10 years.

Shahi Derky explores the psychological confrontation of a Syrian woman who settled in Helsinki in “Leftovers.”

“Malabar” is about the encounter of Mourad and Harrison, who return to their home in the suburbs one night with an old man of Vietnamese descent.

“Nha Mila” presents the spiritual journey of Salome, who has to go back to see her dead brother.

Florence Bamba’s “Number 10” focuses on the soccer practice of a young French girl of Senegalese descent with her friends.

Rikke Gregersen’s story in “The Affected” is about the problems a plane faces before takeoff, while Natalia Luque’s “The Virgin, The Old Lady, The Journey” tells of how technology helps Colombian immigrant Rocio living in New York bid farewell to his grandmother, who is about to die.

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