Lessons from Antalya Film Forum

by Kobi Shely

I just got back from speaking at Antalya Film Forum, the top film development market conference in Turkey, and wow, was I impressed. Gracious accommodation and warm welcoming by the staff, amazing food and 5-star hotel, and of course I had an opportunity to meet incredible talents, I’m sure you will hear about their films in the next coming months.

The forum was jam packed with inspiring filmmakers, extremely interesting sessions,  I just had to share them with you. Below is a summary of some my favorite projects I had the pleasure consulting.

1.  Breakfast Industry Meetings round table

I was invited to choose a few projects and meet with the producers in a roundtable breakfast meeting. I really liked the concept, basically, the meeting continues for an hour and then followed by a half an hour speed meeting session. On the day of the event, there are different round-tables that are all organized on different topics. Each table has one speaker, a moderator, and 8-10 guests. The producers got a chance to speed date their projects with different industry experts from all the spectrum, from finance to marketing.

I discussed how to build a film audience from pre production stage using data and online marketing tools. The meeting was moderated by film producer Aslı Erdem, who gave her own point of view and really helped me with making the discussion relevant for Turkish and International professional. 

2. Distribution, and breaking into global markets.

The next day I was consulting individual filmmakers on how to build their audience, and how to reach global markets using VOD platforms. Projects ranged from LGBT documentaries, to features, and multimedia films. One thing that I noticed is the high level of professionalism, and the enthusiasm to learn new distribution and marketing tools. One project I was deeply impressed with was Nathalie Sejean and Müge Özen’s “In 5 years”. Nathalie is also the publisher of Mentorless a popular filmmaking blog for indie storytellers. Nathalie understand how to reach and audience online, and she is using the same techniques to build her audience for her film. I also understood the challenges of documentary filmmakers struggling between exposing their main characters, and still get global attention to important issues. VOD platforms could be significant in getting Turkish films to a global audience, VOD is still a new format most filmmakers still struggle with, but the potential is there. One last thing to mention, most of the filmmakers were women, they are producers, directors and editors, and they are so impressive in how they execute their projects.

Here are four projects to highlight to sales agents and distributors:

Trust – Won the Fiction Pitching Platform Award

Director: Sefa Öztürk Çolak

Producer: Serkan Acar

Ali and Meryem’s family appears to be an ordinary one at first sight. Meryem has a child from a previous relationship with Ferit. When Ferit reappears years later, Ali puts his wife to a test of trust. While Meryem is caught between her sense of gratitude and the agony of love, Ali’s self-esteem begins to crumble. Ferit’s murder fans the flames of distrust between the couple. They are too suspicious of one another to talk. With their backs against the wall in the police inquiry, they hold on to one another once again. Complicity becomes the glue of trust between them. They are now a proper family.

MNK BOY – Won the TRT Award

Director: Mete Gümürhan

Producer: Zeynep Aşkın Korkmaz — Mete Gümürhan — Aydın Dehzad

Short Synopsis:

12 year old Zeki, a secluded boy and comic book fan, moves from the ghettos of

Rotterdam to the gated communities of İstanbul with his father Mahir to make a

new start. There, he is challenged by the hardships of this new life and left with no

choice other than to become a superhero.

MR. Gay Syria – Won the Work in Progress Award

Director: Ayşe Toprak

Producer: Ekin Çalışır

Short Synopsis:

Set in İstanbul and Berlin, Mr. Gay Syria follows two Syrian gay refugees who are

trying to rebuild their lives. Husein is a 24-year old barber in İstanbul. He is married

and has a child, and lives a double life, one as the family man in the outskirts of

İstanbul, and another as a gay man in the city center. Mahmoud is the founder of

Syria’s LGBTI movement. He works at an NGO in Berlin, helping recent arrivals. What

brings them together is a crazy dream: to join the international beauty contest Mr.

Gay World. For Husein, this is a way to come to terms with his own identity and to

escape to Europe. For Mahmoud, it is the ultimate way of raising awareness about

the plight of the Syrian LGBTI people.


Director: Mehmet Eryılmaz

Producer: Cemre Ceren Asarlı

Short Synopsis:

A small Anatolian town in the 1970s. When the adolescent son of a family of four is

caught in a compromising position with another boy, his father kills himself out of

shame. Young Kemal is forced to run away from home. One rainy evening 30 years

later, he arrives knocking on his elder sister’s door in a small seaside town. Over the

next few days, the brother and sister embark on settling old scores. While focusing

on the turbulent emotional landscape of the individuals concerned, the story also

exposes the wider question of hypocrisy in a regressive, homophobic community.

Brother and Sister is a poignant tale of identity, denial and the destructive potential

of social conventions.

In 5 years

Director: Nathalie Sejean

Producer: Müge Özen

Short Synopsis:

What will my life look like five years from now? France, 2001: This is the question that 18-year old Frederique attempts to answer as her best friend videotapes her with a VHS camera. Of course, her life will be amazing! Thisrecording session starts a traditional routine that they will repeat with their friends every 5 years.

Between online and offline relationships in İstanbul and the recording sessions with her best friends that take place in France over 15 years, Frederique goes through a modern awakening.

Special thanks to Suzan Guverte and Zeynep Atakan for inviting me to speak, and the supporting team Ipek Tugay, Duygu Cömert. Thank you Aslı Erdem for guiding me with the breakfast meetings. Congrats to Dilek Aydın and Sefa Öztürk, Ayse, Mete, and Ekin for winning the awards, much deserved! I hope to see you all very soon next year!

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