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TORONTO ’06 DISCOVERY INTERVIEW: Ozer Kiziltan: “Unfortunately, war and violence affected me more th

TORONTO '06 DISCOVERY INTERVIEW: Ozer Kiziltan: "Unfortunately, war and violence affected me more th

Every day through the end of the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers in the Discovery section of the festival, which TIFF describes as “provocative feature films by new and emerging directors.”

Nineteen filmmakers were given the opportunity to participate in an e-mail interview, and each was sent the same questions. Director Ozer Kiziltan is at Toronto with his feature film, “Takva – A Man’s Fear of God” is about a single middle-aged Turkish man who has a crisis of faith.

How old are you? Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I was born in Istanbul in 1963 and I am still living in this beautiful city.

What were the circumstances that lead you to become a filmmaker?

While I was in my last semester studying Law at Istanbul University, suddenly I thought that I would be a great film director and I left the Law Department and I began studying Cinema & TV. My degree ended up coming from that department. I live in a part of the world where lot of stories are waiting to be heard and communicated to others. I thought the best way to tell these beautiful stories was through movies and I still think so. “Takva” is my first feature film, but I directed several TV series for Turkish television and I still do. I associated in 1997 with a few filmmaker friends in a production company, Yeni Sinemacular (New Filmmakers). So far, I have worked in different positions in four feature films made by Yeni Sinemacular. “Takva” is our fifth film together. All the films we’ve made together have had acclaim in Turkey and also been shown in many international festivals and even won some awards. “Takva” is my turn as a director, and I am waiting impatiently for the reactions.

How/where did the initial idea for your film come from?

Takva” is the most recent project of production company Yeni Sinemacular. While Onder Cakar wrote the script and the project was in development, everything was designed in accordance with my cinema language. I had been waiting for a long time to make a film as a director. “Takva“seemed to be the right project for me.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in either developing the project or making and securing distribution for the movie?

The main problem – not for myself, but for all the crew – was that our knowledge of Islamic culture and its actuality in Istanbul today was very weak. We had to do a lot of research work for a long time during the preparation.

How did you finance the film?

Yeni Sinemacular, together with Turkish-German director Fatih Akin‘s production company Corazon applied to many institutions, such as the Turkish Minister of Culture, Eurimages, Goethe Institute, etc. for financing and the film has been made with a very limited budget.

What are your biggest creative influences?

Unfortunately, war and violence — Kosovo, Chechen wars, September 11 and the Philistine massacres – affected me more than other filmmakers or films. They still keep affecting me after finishing “Takva“.

What is your definition of independent film?

I think what makes a film independent is hidden in its power to stay free from both the film’s own budget issues and also from the cliches of the movie industry’s financial interests. As long as filmmakers don’t lose their freedom, the spirit of independent cinema will survive.

What are some of your favorite films?

Potemkin,” “Amadeus,” “Mephisto,” “Natural Born Killers“.

How do you define success as a filmmaker? What are your personal goals as a filmmaker?

To continue making films, again and again.

Can you tell us a bit about your next projects?

Together with Yeni Sinemacular, we are trying to develop several projects – a project comparing love and war written by a Macedonian woman screenwriter, one on Armenian issues and racial problems. I don’t know of any other projects about the issue of women and Islam in the “Takva” style. Who knows, maybe we will do that too. I guess “Takva” will determine our way.

[Get the latest from the Toronto International Film Festival throughout the day in indieWIRE’s special Toronto ’06 section.]

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