The second rendezvous with Turkish Cinema in Paris will be held on the 26-29 November, with Türkan Şoray as the Guest of Honor and Yılmaz Güney to pay homage to the Masters screenings. We talked to Serap Engin, the founder and president of the festival, about her excitement before the festival.

“Cinema is as striking as it was in the very first days, whispering luminous words to the world. This is how we hold on to life. When we’re preparing for Rome or Paris Turkish Films Festivals, we pack our films with us. We are going to keep up with our silent manifesto, adorned with the colours of peace, which is what we are missing the most these days,” says Serap Engin. The founder and president of the Turkish films festival that is going to be held for the second time in Paris on the 26-29 November this year, says that the idea was first born out of her long lasting friendship with Ferzan Özpetek. “The exchange of opinions between Ferzan and I has led me to seek different works in the field of cinema all the time. We decided to carry out our ideas about introducing Turkish cinema in Italy in 2011, which we had been discussing for years. Thereby I returned to the making of festivals after having a short break,” she says. Engin had worked with the Antalya Film Festival team between 2005 and 2008. Since then, being one of the most enterprising people in the industry except for the short break she mentioned, the story of Serap Engin and her festival that has now reached Paris actually began in Rome. “Right after the foundation, we started the Rome Turkish Films Festival, and our Honorary President was Ferzan Özpetek. Our festival has been going on in Rome for five years, and we’ve been doing the Rendezvous with Turkish Cinema in Paris for two years. It seems to me that the lights of cinema shine even brighter in a magnificent city like Paris,” she explains.

I ask Engin how the first experience of the festival was the previous year. “Even though we have worked in the industry for many years and had the experience of Rome, we still set to work in an amateur spirit. The festival we made last year on the 100th anniversary of Turkish cinema, in Paris, the city where Lumiere Brothers made their first screenings, had a great importance for us, besides being just a cinema gathering, just because of this reason. Our guest of honor was Hülya Koçyiğit. Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ with The Dream of the Butterfly, and Cem Yılmaz and his team with Coming Soon who attended the opening night of the festival, with took place in UGC Normandie Theater in Champs Elysees. And we cannot forget the support from dear Pelin Batu who hosted the night.”

What about this year? What should the audience expect? “We are once again in Champs Elysées’de, but in the Gaumont Marignan Theater this time. One of the most exciting news for us is that Türkan Şoray will be with us to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. We will also be screening two of her masterpieces, Vesikalı Yarim [My Prostitute Love] (1968) and Selvi Boylum Al Yazmalım [The Girl with the Red Scarf] (1978). This year’s rendezvous also has another meaning for us: Yılmaz Güney, who has spread over Turkish cinema like a lever and changed the perception of cinema in society, will once again meet the French audience with his films Yol (1982) and Umut (1970) in the “Homage to the Masters” section of the festival. We will be screening 13 films under the titles “Lifetime Achievement,” “Homage to the Masters,” “Panorama,” and “Short Films.” The opening film will be Kaan Müjdeci’s Sivas (2015), which is our presumptive nominee for the foreign films Oscar.”

Photography: Tabitha Karp