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“Human life is just a replaceable element for the sake of profit”

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Kivanc Sezer • Director


- Cineuropa sat down with Turkish filmmaker Kivanc Sezer at the KVIFF to discuss the genesis, motivation and urgent message of his debut, My Father’s Wings

Kivanc Sezer • Director

Turkish filmmaker Kivanc Sezer’s directorial feature debut, My Father’s Wings [+see also:
film review
interview: Kivanc Sezer
film profile
, is one of the contenders for the Crystal Globe in the main competition at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Sezer, a trained engineer, left for Italy to study editing at the Cineteca di Bologna. After his return home, he worked as an editor and started making short films. Sezer touches upon a range of topics in his first feature, including dignity, hope and the value of human life, all set against the harsh socio-economic reality of contemporary Turkey and the difficult living conditions of the working class.

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Cineuropa: How does an engineer end up making films? Did your former vocation play a part in preparing your feature debut?
Kivanc Sezer
: Actually, I was interested in theatre and filmmaking from the beginning of my college days. However, it took around seven years to make the decision to change course and jump into the film world. But I never worked as an engineer. After studying in Italy, I came back to Turkey to shoot short films and TV documentaries, and in 2012, I began writing my feature debut. Interestingly enough, the notion of engineering brought some advantages in directing and scriptwriting that I only noticed just recently.

My Father’s Wings is set against a backdrop of underpaid, even exploited, construction workers but ends up questioning the value of one’s life. How did the story crystallise into its current form?
The idea of the film came from the story of a university student who died in a work-related accident on a construction site. It was a report in a newspaper, and I felt deeply saddened by such a story and its circumstances. The main question was how to make a film out of it, conveying the tragedy of these people.

During the development stage, I started visiting these sites and forged friendships with the workers. For a period of time, I went back and forth between reality and fiction. Through lots of rewritings and new drafts, I concentrated on the characters of Ibrahim and Yusuf, and the crucial idea became a triggering event in the film. From then on, I knew what I was going to talk about – the theme of dignity.

What led you to bring the socio-economic plane to the fore, and with such urgency?
During my research for the script, I learnt that in Turkey, at least three workers a day die in preventable work-related accidents – it is ranked third in the world and first in Europe in this regard. By digging deeper, I learnt that this was just the tip of the iceberg and that there was a huge systematic problem lurking below. In these sub-contracting and insecure working conditions, human life is just a replaceable element for the sake of profit.

Why did you opt to divide the narration into the three strands, led by the characters of Ibrahim, Yusuf and Resul, whom you follow throughout the film?
Indeed, I intended to divide the narration into two main storylines: those of Ibrahim and his nephew, Yusuf. Resul is kind of a key character that represents the sub-contracting hierarchy and acts as a shuttle between the stories of Yusuf and Ibrahim. I also give more importance to these character’s dreams and hopes, as well as their struggles and sorrow. I think the last scene also reveals the truths behind Yusuf’s dreams.

Are you already developing your next project?
Yes, in fact My Father’s Wings is the first film in a trilogy, which I am calling the Housing Trilogy. I am now working on the script for my second film, and the idea is to make a trilogy on the housing-estate world of Turkey during the 2010s. My next film will be a comedy revolving around a middle-class couple that moves into exactly the same building in this film after it is finished. The three films will intersect with one another location-wise, character-wise and time-wise, focusing on the same environment from different perspectives.

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