The preparation of the Red Crescent International Amity Film Festival started in 2017. The very first festival was carried out in 2018, inspired by Fethi Gemhluoğlu’s speech on ancient Anatolian amity. The festival received significant attention in its first year, receiving 800 applications from 82 countries. In its second year, the festival was realized in the memory of Aşık Veysel, who strengthened Anatolian amity’s perception with his poetry and music. In the third edition of the festival, poet Yunus Emre was commemorated. In three years, more than 2000 applications were received from 120 different countries.
Undoubtedly, poets are at the forefront of developing, spreading, and universalizing the Anatolian amity. Therefore, as the festival board, we organized the festival every year in memory of a great Anatolian Minstrel/Poet/Thinker. As a result, the great poets and thinkers who immortalized Anatolian amity would be a source of inspiration for cinema. Moreover, they would be introduced to the world with a new perspective.
After Aşık Veysel and Yunus Emre, we will hold the festival’s fourth edition in memory of Hacı Bektâş-ı Velî. We will benefit from the philosophy of Hacı Bektâş-ı Velî, who developed the amity with his work and life in the Anatolian geography and carried it from Asia to Europe, specifically to the Balkans.
UNESCO, declaring 2021 as the year of Hacı Bektâş-ı Velî in cooperation with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, will allow the great wise man’s amity perception to be discussed on different platforms and to be on the agenda. We will tackle the various dimensions of his amity perception in the film community through the festival. As he expresses in his verse, “Together with our friend, we get hurt and bleed, With every breath, We remember the creator with love, Enter the square of the saints with unity and see, Forty of us burn in a forty-knotted candlestick,” we will bring up his understanding of amity to the attention of our country and abroad, commentating with poets, artist, and thinkers during the festival.
In today’s age of consumption and polarization, friendship and loyalty are despised, and people are becoming more hostile against each other. However, despite this irreparable downfall, we wish to initiate amity-themed short and feature film production, gather such films and deliver them to the audience through the festival. To put it more clearly: the festival, which set out to re-understand, think the concept of amity and magnify its reflection in our lives by using one of the most effective means of contemporary arts—cinema, would like to create awareness and growth about amity—the only legacy of humanity—through various conferences, talks, workshops, competitions, screenings as the reflection of a friendly country.
We aim: Reaching young people in Turkey and all over the world, making them to think and inviting them to make films on “amity” with the support of the awards will be given; Preparing the ground for young people to meet more closely with the most common and valuable art of modern times—cinema, and encouraging them to make the films of their worlds and dreams; Introducing the Anatolian geography and its core—the amity, especially to all the friendly people of foreign countries through international participation; Instilling awareness about amity in people by organizing conferences, seminars, poetry talks along with film screenings; Distributing the films that will apply to Competition, Forty Year of Gratitude Section and the special compilations that will reflect the logic and culture of amity to the art world and the countries Turkey has relations; Building a bridge of amity with those who learn Turkish and interested in Turkish culture and traditions through short films, promoting Turkish cinema and Turkish directors through screenings that will take place Red Crescent and Yunus Emre Institute centers abroad.
REMNANTS OF AMITY FILM FESTIVAL?
Announcement and Applications
Collaborations and partnerships with national and international film platforms were established to announce the International Amity Short Film Festival. Walkway boards, billboards, vinyl prints, city displays were used. Intensive work was carried out with social media posts, printed materials (brochures, catalogs, posters, etc.), the festival promotional film and video made by our influential friends in the sector, and friends of the festival in the media. Film submissions were received by the bilingual festival website and the International Freeway platform. As a result of this compelling and voluntary work, 2000 applications were submitted from 120 countries from India to the Philippines, Iran to the USA, Brazil to Syria, France to Algeria, Sweden to Ghana, and Russia to Kyrgyzstan.
Conferences, Panels, and Talks
The inspiration for our activities in the first edition of our festival, the “Fethi Gemuhluoğlu’s Amity Philosophy Panel,” was held at Istanbul University Faculty of Communication. In 2018 and 2019, two panel discussions on friendship and cinema were held in Salt Galata with the international audience’s participation. Moderated by our festival president Faysal Soysal, the panels included famous local and foreign directors such as Kamal Tabrizi, Najwa Najjar, Yüksel Aksu, Reis Çelik, Nima Javedi, and Ado Hasanovic. In addition, a talk on “Friendship in Cinema” was held in Bosnia and Herzegovina with Jury President Yüksel Aksu, Director of Photography Mirsad Herovic, and Faysal Soysal. “The International Importance of Amity” was held with Ali Gemuhluoğlu and Mehmet Lütfi Şen. Thirty-four film talks were held at our festival centers with the directors of the finalist films. At the festival’s third edition, 12 exclusive online interviews and an online panel on short film distribution were held.
Short Film and Post-Production Workshops
Young undergraduate and graduate students from various Turkish universities participated in a film workshop collaborating with the Bahçeşehir University. Professionals from different fields of cinema met with young people to provide training during the workshop. After the workshop, students, in light of their education and under instructors’ supervision, shot an amity-themed collective short film in which they put forward their approach. The festival held a special screening for the film. 2nd International Amity Short Film Festival organized a post-production workshop with the collaboration of one of the oldest film studios of Turkey, the Fono Film. Selected participants observed the post-production process in a professional studio under the Editing-Sound Design-Color Design-DCP-VFX headings. And they benefited from the experiences of industry professionals. An exceptional workshop took place at the 3rd festival. Young participants witnessed all details of the shooting of a professional film a period film set.
During the festival, a variety of meetings were held with national and international short film collectives. In addition, collaborations were established with short film groups.
Director Yüksel Aksu served as the Jury Chairman of the 1st International Amity Short Film Festival. Director Tevfik Başer, Palestinian scriptwriter and director Najwa Najjar, Iranian director Kamal Tabrizi and Turkish actress Sezin Akbaşoğulları were among the jury members. The Chairman of the 2nd International Amity Short Film Festival was Reis Çelik. The other jury members were Javea Nima from Iran, Ado Hasanovic from Bosnia-Herzegovina, famous Turkish actor Feyyaz Duman, and award-winning Turkish director Vuslat Saracoglu. At the 3rd festival, the jury was chaired by esteemed Turkish cinematographer Vedat Özdemir. The award-winning Greek director Maria Lafi, Azerbaijani director Hilal Baydarov whose second film “In Between Dying” competed in the International Competition of the Venice Film Festival, Turkish actress İrem Altug who gain recognition with her character Ayşe in TV series Çukur, and Turkish script consultant, academician, and a great contributor to Turkish cinema Öktem Başol were the jury members.
In the first edition of the festival, films under four categories—International Competition, Panorama, Forty Year of Gratitude, and Special Screening—were screened in five different venues, including festival center Beyoğlu Cinema, Kadıköy Cinema, Salt Galata, Bahçeşehir University and Istanbul University. The second edition’s screening was held in Beyoğlu Fitaş, ZKSM ve SALT Galata. Unfortunately, the third festival could not be screened in theaters due to the COVID-19 conditions, but the online screenings covered entire Turkey, and the festival met 6,000 registered viewers.
Festival Opening, Closing, and Gala
Opening and Closing activities were held at Beyoğlu Cinema, which is used as a center in the first year of the festival. The Gala and Award Ceremony, held in the Cemal Reşit Rey concert hall, attracted considerable attention with 750 people from both the art world and politics and moviegoers. Opening and closing activities were held in the second year of the festival at Beyoğlu Fitaş Cinema, which is used as a center. The Gala and Award Ceremony held in the Grand Pera Hall attracted considerable attention with guests from the arts and politics, and moviegoers. In the third year, the screenings were held online due to the pandemic conditions. The Gala and Award Ceremony was held at Grand Pera by meticulously complying with the pandemic regulations. The Gala night was broadcasted live on the festival website and the broadcasting channels of our partners, including Red Crescent and Beyoğlu Municipality, and reached a significant viewing rate.
Friendly Country Screenings
After the festival, a series of events were held in Bosnia with the “Friendly Country” theme to increase the international recognition of the festival. Award-winning festival films and an exclusive selection met the audience with a two-day long program in Sarajevo. Also, two panel discussions with international speakers on ancient relationships, friendship, and the language of cinema between the two countries were held. Script consultant and academician Öktem Başol participated in the panels.
Reflections on Media
News about the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd International Amity Short Film Festivals reached 35,000 people; thanks to the print and visual media stories, the press coverage exceeded 300,000 in total. In addition, nearly 15,000 people attended the screenings, talks, and workshops.
WHAT WILL RED CRESCENT 4TH INTERNATIONAL AMITY SHORT FILM FESTIVAL DO?
Announcement and Applications
In cooperation with national and international film platforms, Red Crescent International Amity Short Film Festival will be launched with outdoor advertisements, printed materials, publicity films, and videos shot and shared by the festival’s influential friends and the festival’s friends’ media after intense work. Furthermore, the festival will accept the applications for films for competition and non-competition sections, make calls and publish presentations through the bilingual official website and Freeway platform. In addition, as the Red Crescent, we will use our national and international connections, including 192 Red Crescent and Red Crosses, very effectively. It will also engage in promotional activities in each country for special screenings planned to be held in 30 countries where a Yunus Emre Institute is located.
Conferences, Panels, and Talks
During the festival, national and international cinema, friendship, and Hacı Bektâş-ı Velî themed lectures, panel discussions, and talks will be held at the universities, festival venues, SALT Galata, and in a “Friendly Country,” determined by the festival committee. In addition, many online conferences will be held on the same themes.
As in the previous three festival editions, the Red Crescent International Amity Short Film Festival plans to organize workshops in Turkey and the Friendly Country of the festival to support young filmmakers. For the third Post-Production Workshop, new participants will observe the post-production process in the professional studio of Fono Film under the Editing-Sound Design-Color Design-DCP-VFX headlines and benefit from the experiences of industry professionals. For the Film Set Workshop, held for the first time in the festival’s third year, an ongoing film set will be opened to workshop participants. In a 2-day workshop, the young filmmakers will gain experience in the actual stages of making a film by seeing the process on-site. In addition, short film workshops will be held with İstanbul Medipol University.
As in all previous editions of our festival, the 4th edition holds talks and establishes collaborations with many national and international short film collectives. Especially for screenings abroad, discussions are being held with film platforms in relevant countries. As in the first three festivals, the special-designed festival catalog and the Turkish Directors book unique to this year will be published and distributed to festival viewers and guests. As in the previous three festivals, the jury chair will be from Turkey, and other jury members will be distinguished film professionals from Turkey and abroad.
The festival center, where the competition films will be screened, will be a theater in Beyoğlu and Kadıköy as previous years. In addition to Panorama, Forty Years of Gratitude, and Special Screenings, the very first Human Perspective section will meet the audience in major theaters in the European and Anatolian sides. The festival plans to have screenings in many countries as well. In normal epidemic conditions, the directors of the finalist films will be invited to Istanbul, and our voluntary students will be their hosts. After the film screenings, talks will be held with the directors. In addition, conferences and lectures will be held on the friendship theme in cinema and experiences about film production.
Festival Opening, Closing, and Gala
Opening, Closing, and Gala events will be held in İstanbul’s primary cultural venues. As in the first three years, the festival aims to end the festival in Turkey with a crowded, friendly, and dynamic ceremony with the national and international guests’ participation.
Friendly Country Screenings
The Festival plans to organize special selection screenings in foreign countries either after the festival or simultaneously. In addition, hosting a program with international talks and workshops in another country is the festival’s goal.