Title

Zayiat

Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program

Film and Electronic Arts

Project Advisor 1

Marie Regan

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Mete, because of his father’s disappearance and his mother’s anger and sadness caused by this, returns to his family house. He tries to restore the order of things, taking some time off from everything going on in his life outside of this. His social identity is told through what people need from him while he half-heartedly looks for his father. As his father remains missing, he searches through the personal and secret undercurrents of his father's life, discovering parallels between himself and his distant father. Somehow Mete takes on the role of the father figure in his family, both by heading his own search to find him but also becoming him through seemingly arbitrary forms of modern communication. Yet all of this transformation seems in vain and doesn’t lead to anywhere. An event, which should be life-changing, has no real resolution. It ends with frustration and nothing significant.

***

Having been raised and living all of my life in Istanbul, the city has shaped a considerable amount of my personality and worldview. The city has a feeling of sadness and darkness that resonates, but it does not necessarily pull one down. Instead, the melancholy makes one feel more attached to the city. This feeling perpetuates a sense of common collectivity and camaraderie between those who live or spend considerable time in Istanbul, forming the fabric of a larger community.

I’ve approached my senior project with the thought of making a film on Istanbul and Turkey in general, using this feeling as a jumping point. Combined with this feeling, I also tried to incorporate my sense of the current political and social situation in Turkey. The country is experiencing a transitional political phase and moving towards conservatism, the likes of which makes Turkey’s future murky and unknown. The current ruling party has been in power for ten years, and challenges Turkey’s official secular identity (amongst others) in a profound way. The conservative and almost totalitarian attitude this party has acts as an unknown threat, in that the people have little indication of where the country is headed, thus creating tension and unrest for a section of the population. This feeling of not knowing is heightened by the burden of “now”.

There is almost no meaning in the “now”, and all once can do is flow and move forward through time and space. In creating this narrative piece, I wanted to emulate this feeling of the unknown while making all actions and events somewhat arbitrary. The characters, particularly Mete, move through time and space without a definitive sense of destination. There is a palpable and urgent need to deal with the present. But the inability to discern the cues that would unravel the purpose of a destination generates discomfort and tension. The lack of clarity in the narrative, feelings, and motivations of the characters clouds the film, with the viewer unable to discern the resolution or the meaning of the film. The film becomes more dark and hopeless because of the arbitrariness of the narrative, treating a big dramatic event without any deeper reconciliation or understanding.

In attempting to create this feeling, I tried to incorporate the city as a character, almost as a dark sea which devours its people with great serenity. Another metaphor carries the film as well, the “School for the Blind”. It stands for the burden of the present. I derived my inspirations mostly from Orhan Pamuk’s Black Book (although the film is almost unrelated to the book, I wanted to create a similar feeling) and the ghosts of Apichatpong and Antonioni.

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