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VENICE 2018 Orizzonti

Mahmut Fazıl Coşkun • Director

“The coup that happened in Turkey in 2016 was a total coincidence”


- VENICE 2018: We chatted to Turkish director Mahmut Fazıl Coşkun, who is taking part in Venice’s Orizzonti with the comedy The Announcement, revolving around a failed coup

Mahmut Fazıl Coşkun  • Director
(© La Biennale di Venezia - foto ASAC)

Turkish director Mahmut Fazıl Coşkun made his first fiction film, Wrong Rosary, in 2009, for which he won several national and international awards, including International Film Festival Rotterdam’s Tiger Award and the İstanbul Film Festival’s Best Director Award. His second film, Yozgat Blues [+see also:
film profile
, was finished in 2013 and premiered at the San Sebastián Film Festival. His new effort, The Announcement [+see also:
film review
interview: Mahmut Fazıl Coşkun
film profile
, is playing in the Orizzonti section of the 2018 Venice Film Festival.

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Cineuropa: Was this film inspired by, or is it a comment on, the attempted military coup d’état on 15 July 2016?
Mahmut Fazıl Coşkun: The coup that happened in Turkey in 2016 was a total coincidence. We started to write the script for The Announcement four years ago, and we had already finished one draft of the script when the coup happened. It felt so strange to see that coup happening as we were going to start shooting two months later, and there I was sitting at home, watching the reports on the coup on TV, and of course, I realised it was almost the same story as my script. It was very strange.

What was it about the failed coup of 1963 that made you want to direct a film about it?
At that time, between 1960 and 1963, there were three coup attempts, two of them unsuccessful and one successful. That seemed like an interesting time. I was born in 1970, so I didn’t live through that time, and so I had to investigate the coup from news stories and from the diaries of the colonels, plus some books. I asked my parents about what happened, and they said nobody reacted against the coup. I focused on a very small part of it. For example, in Ankara, which we didn’t look at in the film, I think some people died, and three of the leaders of the coup were hanged.

The style of the film is very reminiscent of deadpan comedies from the likes of Aki Kaurismäki and the early Coen brothers; were they inspirations?
I like senseless humour and observing, and staying behind a little bit, so maybe it reflects my personality. Of course I like these films and that humour. But I think it’s different from Kaurismäki and the Coens because they cut a lot, whereas I have more long takes, staging and carefully designed frames. I wanted to show the ideal world of the military guys. When I say military, it applies to any kind of idealism – communists, fascists or materialistic – anyone that has an ideal world, and that for me is the frame, the box itself, of society. In the film, I just wanted to hear the voices off-frame, the voices of others.

There are lots of technical shots, and as you say, we hear a lot of people off-frame who then run into the screen, and we glimpse them through cars. Can you tell me why you wanted to do that?
The frame of a film creates a hierarchy in itself. You put things in front or behind, and you leave something outside, but actually, the world is bigger than the frame. When you create a frame in cinema, you dismiss the whole world outside of it, and my idea was to say, “Okay, you are framing something, but you are also missing something out.” So the world is not perfect, and I want to hear that.

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