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Hüseyin Karabey • Producer

Istanbul is an addictive poison

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- Do Not Forget Me Istanbul, which opened the Eastern Neighbours Film Festival, gathers six urban tales about the producer’s native city

Hüseyin Karabey • Producer

Turkish director Hüseyin Karabey’s charming feature debut My Marlon and Brando premiered within the programme of the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2008, and just recently the director travelled to Utrecht for the Dutch premiere of his latest producer’s project Do Not Forget Me Istanbul, which opened the Eastern Neighbours Film Festival. It is an omnibus film comprising six urban tales centred around his beloved city, made by his good friends. Although Karabey is not in the director’s chair this time around, Do Not Forget Me Istanbul is nevertheless his private love letter to Istanbul as well.

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Cineuropa: Why you did not include your own short story about Istanbul in this collection?
Hüseyin Karabey: I thought about it but then I realised that it is not necessary because I was already involved enough with the film. This is my city and in some stories you can see my neighbourhood Kurtuluş – it is a cosmopolitan area where Turks, Greeks, Kurds, Armenians and Jews live. Petros Markaris, a great novelist who worked with Theo Angelopoulos as a scriptwriter and helped also for Do Not Forget Me Istanbul, has been living there while I was in school. So, not only my neighbourhood and my youth hero are involved with this project but the directors are friends of mine, I am the producer and the artistic director of the film, I am there also with my epilogue. This is fairly enough. I wanted to encourage them telling their own stories, to talk about themselves. I don’t mind sitting in the producer’s chair, even to be just a spectator.

How are all these directors and friends of you related to the city?
Some of them I know for long time and through the years they all told me their personal stories with Istanbul. Stefan Arsenijevic for example had never been in Istanbul before shooting the film but he shared with me that during the war in Serbia, people were bringing goods from Istanbul to survive. He is culturally related to the city. Eric Nazarian’s story called Constantinople is a real one, he is the prototype of the main character.

The character in this short story talks about the Armenian genocide which has not been officially admitted yet by the Turkish government. How was it that the film received state support?
Now Turkey is changing and this support is a good sign. Constantinople deals with the conflict on a human not political level, which is also important.

What story of your own would have been in the selection, if you had decided to participate as a director?
I have Kurdish roots and could have told about the mishaps of my parents who are refugees from Eastern Turkey. But I consider myself as an Istanbul citizen – once you involve with this city, it poisons you and you are eternally bound. In a next project maybe we should tell stories related to different extracts of Istanbul history because what you see in Do Not Forget Me Istanbul is just a tiny part – there are 6000 years of history in this city.

Sounds like a drug addiction or some incurable illness?
But without the negative nuance. It is more comparable to passionate love affair you cannot live through or to a woman – you never know what comes next (laughing). Istanbul changes you and makes you softer. In one word I would describe it as melancholic, but not in Western sense. It is a sweet melancholy, best described by the Turkish word hüzün.

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