Passed by Censor on Bac Films’ line-up
by Fabien Lemercier
- The Paris-based company will be selling the feature debut by Turkish director Serhat Karaaslan, which is being co-produced by Germany’s Departures Film and France’s Silex Films
Having turned heads with his short films Musa (screened at Locarno in 2012) and Ice Cream (Toronto 2014), Turkish director Serhat Karaaslan has just wrapped the shoot for his feature debut, Passed by Censor, in Istanbul, shrouded in the utmost secrecy. The film is being co-produced by Germany and France, and will be sold by Paris-based sales agent Bac Films International.
The cast includes Berkay Ates (Frenzy [+see also:
interview: Emin Alper
film profile]), Ipek Türktan (The Impeccables) and Saadet Aksoy (Best Actress at Sarajevo in 2007 for Egg [+see also:
film profile] and at Ankara in 2009 for Love in Another Language, also making a splash in Twice Born [+see also:
interview: Sergio Castellitto
film profile] and Eastern Plays [+see also:
interview: Kamen Kalev
Written by the director, the story revolves around 30-year-old Zakir, who works in the letter-reading department of a prison located in the heart of Istanbul. His work consists of blacking out the sensitive parts of the letters that the inmates receive and send. His daily life is organised between his friends and colleagues inside the prison, and the flat he shares with his mother. Zakir goes through life without much enthusiasm, his prospects for the future being limited in a country where everything is under surveillance. That is, until the day he decides to enrol in a creative-writing course, where he meets Emel, a young woman his own age. When their course teacher asks the class “to write a short story inspired by a photograph”, Zakir steals one of the dozens of photographs he finds in the prisoners’ letters. The one that captures his attention is a family portrait belonging to an inmate called Recep, depicting himself, his beautiful wife Selma and his father in the prison’s visiting room. Zakir’s curiosity is aroused each time Selma visits her husband. Soon, his desire to feed his story and the one that is born from observing Selma come into conflict. With Emel’s help, as they become close friends, he becomes determined to discover more about Selma at the risk of putting himself in danger.
Interestingly, the project was developed at a number of writing residencies, such as the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinéfondation, the Jerusalem International Film Lab and the Locarno Filmmakers Academy. It also passed through the Berlinale Talent Project Market, the Paris Coproduction Village, the Mediterranean Film Institute’s “MFI Script 2 Film Workshops” (winning the Scenario Workshop Award into the bargain) and the Film Development Workshop – Meetings on the Bridge in Turkey.
Produced by Serkan Cakarer for Turkish outfit +90 Film Production, Passed by Censor is being co-produced by Germany’s Departures Film (Undine Filter and Thomas Král) and France’s Silex Films (Priscilla Bertin, Elisa Larrière and Judith Nora), with support from Eurimages, the Turkish Ministry of Culture, TOY, Bir Film (which will be in charge of distributing the movie in Turkey), the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung and Bac Films (which will oversee the French release and the international sales). In Germany, the distribution will be managed by Farbfilm Verleih. Principal photography took place from 9 September-11 October, with Meryem Yavuz serving as DoP, while the editing will be entrusted to Ali Aga.
(Translated from French)
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