Antalya Film Forum Provides Vivid Picture of Turkish Features in the Pipeline

The expanding Antalya Film Forum dedicated to fostering a new generation of Turkish directors seems poised to really have the goods this year for buyers and festival programmers who would like to know what’s coming down the pike.

The Antalya Film Festival’s industry section – which will run online Oct. 6-8 — features a fresh batch of projects spanning a wide range of often innovative genres mostly germinated from rookie producer-director teams that provides a sharp snapshot “of what’s to come,” vows the Forum’s new co-chief Müge Özen.

Özen, who is a young but experienced producer of standout titles from Turkey such as recent Istanbul hip-hop scene drama “When I’m Done Dying,” which was a Forum project in 2017, has now taken the section’s reins with Pınar Evrenosoğlu.

She points out that “the selection is very different from previous years” since seven out of the eight feature projects being pitched at the Forum’s in-development platform hail from first-time directors and producer teams.

The one exception is the mockumentary “A Smile Worthwhile,” about a novice female attorney whose giggles in a police station while defending some protesters get caught on video and go viral, dividing the country between two hashtags. The mockumentary is directed by Sefa Öztürk, whose “Trust” premiered at Antalya in 2018 and travelled on the fest circuit.

The seven projects from the Turkish rookies comprise “Peer Through the Skin,” a sci-fi thriller involving an explosion in an impoverished mining town which a group of UFO believers claim is related to extraterrestrials, just as the desperate townspeople are selling their body organs to a criminal organization to make ends meet; “Thursday Night Is Too Dark,” an absurdist film noir with comedy elements involving two ordinary cops on their night shift that will be filmed in black and white; “Tussifed,” a coming of age youth drama that captures the spirit of Ankara, the Turkish capital, and political changes that started there in 2003 with the rising role of Islamists in government; and “Three Meters,” a multi-layered drama about land, property and war.

Rounding off the Forum’s in-development platform selection are ecological drama “Seed,” which takes its cue from a law that criminalized the sale of non-patented heirloom seeds forcing a disastrous transformation in the practice of agriculture in Turkey and also elsewhere; “Lodos Boys,” a drama depicting the dark side of Istanbul through the tale of young boys who collect and sell valuables that wash up on the city’s shores after a strong southern wind blows; and “After Rain,” a gender identity drama in which a man named Mustafa, who is a barber, is shocked to learn that his estranged eldest son has had a sex change upon seeing his dead body.

Feature projects being pitched at Antalya were selected by Göteborg Film Festival programmer Freddy Olsson, who is also a producer; former sales agent Ilaria Gomarasca, who is a manager at the First Cut Lab dedicated to projects in post; and Turkish director Ramin Matin (“Siren’s Call”).

Besides project presentations, the Forum this year is launching a new initiative called Forum Plus involving workshops, panels, and talks.

These extra events, scheduled on Oct. 6 and 7, will include a masterclass on screen adaptations of literary works by BAFTA-nominated British scribe Olivia Hetreed, who adapted “Girl With a Pearl Earring” and “Wuthering Heights” for film, and who will also touch on adaptations of literature from Turkey. There is also a talk on how to produce a successful TV series by Oscar-nominated British producer Ed Guiney (“The Favourite”), who adapted Sally Rooney’s novel “Normal People” into the eponymous recent BBC and Hulu show.

The Antalya Film Forum last year branched out into TV series with a short series pitching platform.

The APostLab will hold a post-production workshop for film professionals; the European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs association EAVE will hold a workshop on marketing and audience development; and there are also sessions on film poster design as a marketing tool and on the latest color correction tools.

With Forum Plus Antalya’s industry side is looking to become more well-rounded and “welcoming” for the industry, says Özen, who is planning to expand this strand next year when it will go back to being an in-person event.

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