GoCritic! Interview: Ekin Koca • Director of The Immoral
“There are lots of human mechanisms that I am interested in”
- Levan Tskhovrebadze chatted with the young Paris-based Turkish animator Ekin Koca about his film which competed in Animateka Ljubljana's European Young Talents section
An alumnus of La Poudrière School Film D'animation, Paris-based Turkish animator Ekin Koca recently competed in the European Young Talents section of the Animateka International Film Festival with his four-minute graduation film. Combining Roy Andersson’s absurdity, Brecht’s distancing effects and Michael Haneke’s violence, The Immoral is a standout film not only in the festival but in the wider context of contemporary animation.
Cineuropa: What were your initial reasons for making The Immoral?
Ekin Koca: Literature and philosophy were two of the reasons, but the main reason was political. I come from Turkey and there has always been an authoritarian tradition in Turkish politics. There has always been a gang-versus-gang logic.
I am interested in the Milgram experiment that began in the early 1960s. It is a scientific experiment which proves that ordinary people can commit violent acts if they feel the authorities want them to and if they feel confident. There are lots of human mechanisms that I am interested in. In Turkey, we have a long history of massacres, and I’ve always tried to understand why we are so nationalistic and have problems with our neighbours. But I think the same things go on, more or less, in all countries. That is why I wanted my film to be without dialogue, and without backgrounds. It is quite a European setting, but the plot is very universal.
Could you say a bit more about your interest in the film’s subject-matter?
I find it increasingly difficult to talk about news topics, or even countries and cultures. When it comes to morality, I notice people have a tendency to categorize and affiliate you with something, and if you do not follow their lead or moralism then you are immoral. I am intrigued by questions of morality. I want to know what is moral and what the right way to react is. This is becoming increasingly important, especially with social media, because everybody expects you to react to something and, if you do not react, it seems weird.
Your film seems quite different to others produced at La Poudrière. Can you say more about your experience studying there, and making the film in that context?
They helped me a lot. But the main thing with La Poudrière is that even with the tiniest projects –we had to make a 20-second film over the course of a week at one point – we had to spend a lot of time on scriptwriting and structuring the animation. So I studied at another school before La Poudrière, which was also in France, in a little town.
I’d had a bit of experience in filmmaking before, but at La Poudrière the attitude is kind of perfectionist, which is not particularly fun because it is very exhausting. You’re always having to work on the smaller things and the finer details. But, at the same time, in my case, it was interesting because they pushed me in that direction. But the reason the film is different is that the school is changing a lot. They are taking different approaches. It has strong poetic leanings. They also made a lot of children's films. But I wanted to make something punchier.
You’ve mentioned Michael Haneke and Roy Andersson as influences. Could you elaborate on your inspirations?
I was influenced by Haneke in terms of the violence. The White Ribbon is one of my favourite films. I was influenced by Roy Andersson for the shots and overall tone but, at the same time, I was watching films by Thomas Vinterberg and also Lars Von Trier, a bit of Kaurismaki, a bit of everything. But I think the main one was Roy Andersson, in general. The reason I like films by Andersson especially is that there are sometimes very funny scenes and then, suddenly, war crimes.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.