Touching down in Serbia; the internationally acclaimed Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan was one of guests of honour at the Küstendorf Film Festival.
Serbian film director Emir Kusterica invited him to the 5th edition of his festival, to present him with the Retrospective of Greatness prize.
Several of award-winning films were screened including his first full length work Small Town and Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes last year.
euronews: “You are the best-known Turkish director abroad. Does this make you proud or do you regret that other directors are not as widely recognised abroad?”
Nuri Bilge Ceylan: “In the international age, there are some other Turkish movies too. Turkish cinema is awakening every day. Special production numbers are increasing anyway. The quality is getting better and more authentic in an original way. Also we have challenging directors and films nowadays. It is not like the old days anymore.”
euronews: “You haven’t given any interviews since your last film was released in Turkey, why do you keep away from public life and the media in general?”
Nuri Bilge Ceylan: “I rarely give interviews to Turkish journalists because – how can I put it – I pay more attention to Turkey. Turkey is where I live my private life. It is my home and I don’t want to live my private life in front of the cameras. For me that is the main reason. I just to live an ordinary life. That’s why. Not because I prefer to give my attention to other countries.”
euronews: “Your previous films were based in Istanbul, why have you returned to Anatolia – where you grew up – with this film?”
Nuri Bilge Ceylan: “It doesn’t mean I have returned to my roots. Sometimes your story has to be shot in a village, and sometimes it doesn’t. It has to be in Istanbul. It is not that I want to return to Anatolia. When you make a movie about somewhere else you never begin thinking about living in that region.
“And I know both places already. I grew up in Anatolia. I have strong memories and experiences of both places, both sides. So really it was just a coincidence.”
euronews: Once Upon A Time In Anatolia takes place at night, as three characters search for a body. It presents the Turkey of today, between the old traditions of the countryside and the modernity of its cities. It is a chronicle of contemporary Turkey, even if that was not Ceylan’s intention.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan: “Well, the film does have some realistic depictions of Turkey. But that was not my first aim. What I wanted to do was to show human nature in difficult and testing situations. I wanted to talk about human nature in hard periods. That is why I chose to tell this story. But the characters in the film, the plot, the bureauocracy helped us to tell our story. A side effect of this was that we touched on Turkey’s past. But that wasn’t the main thrust of the film.”
euronews: “Is the moral of your film that no one is innocent?”
Nuri Bilge Ceylan: “If no one is innocent how could anyone be guilty? I wanted to talk about the human condition, the nature of our lives.”