written and directed by: ELİF REFİĞ
written and directed by: ELİF REFİĞ
20-year-old Ali works with his strict father Raif and hardworking friend Kısmet, as a ship supplier for the shipyards and harbours of Tuzla in Istanbul. Ali is a dreamer who believes in signs, fate and coincidences. As he watches ships depart day after day, he dreams of a better life elsewhere. He slacks off at his job and goes through life satisfying his father’s demands but his eyes are constantly in search of signs with meaning that will lead him to a life that will actually satisfy him. One day whilst hanging out with Kısmet, Ali climbs to the top of a hill to try and view the city from a different angle. Once up there he notices some graffiti of a ship on the wall opposite him. Ali considers this as an important sign. His only objective is to find the graffiti artist and convince that person to join him on a quest to find a ship called Vamos that Ali has only seen in his dreams.
biography ELİF REFİĞ
After graduating from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Elif Refiğ completed her M.F.A. in Film at Columbia University in New York. Her feature screenplay Adanmış Detaylar (Devoted Details) was a finalist for the 2004 Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab. She received the Gestures of Reconciliation Screenwriting Prize from the Goethe Institute with her second film Esperanza Starring. Elif Refiğ received the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Grant in 2004 and again in 2007. Her latest short Erkek Adam (Man To Be), was supported by Kodak as well as the Caucus Foundation and the Open Society Institute. She also won the Best Foreign Filmmaker Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with this film. Elif Refiğ is the recipient of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism script development grant and production fund for her debut feature Ferahfeza (Ships), which was also a participant of the Istanbul International Film Festival Meetings on the Bridge Co-Production Workshop in 2010 and Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Works in Progress section in 2011. Ferahfeza (Ships) received post production funding from the Global Film Initiative in March, 2012. The film made its first public screening in the national competition section of Istanbul International Film Festival in April, 2012.
I grew up in the 90’s when Turkey really began to open up to the world on a social, economic and cultural level and attempted to integrate itself into the international arena while trying to maintain its own culture and values. The generation that I am also a part of -whose oldest members are now in their late 30s- grew up at a time when the apparent divide between right and wrong disappeared. Inevitably as a result of this, we ended up being different from our parents and maintained a strong sense of uncertainty and soul searching within ourselves. Unlike those that came before us, we have chosen an existentialist outlook geared towards exploring the world rather than a lifestyle based on obligations and needs. We now live in an era where all ideologies have fallen apart and hope is replaced by vulnerability and fear. Ships focuses on the journey one takes while trying to realize ones’ dreams. The story makes the point that the journey itself is what matters by helping one grow and change, regardless of whether the dream is actually realized at the end. The story of Eda and Ali urges young people to be courageous, take challenges and have a dream. Ships is a story that stays close to its characters and makes their worries, fears, hopes and struggles ring familiar to anyone who has ever been at that age. It is difficult to say that a story that can be summarized as ‘Ali searches for a ship he dreams about with Eda, who he has just met’, because it has much to do with reality in the sense that we perceive it. Yet, Ali convinces not only Eda, but also us about how his only way out is to literally look for that ship. While doing this, he encourages us to question our notions about what is logical, real, right and obligatory. Ships will take the viewers to a different level of consciousness, causing them to reconnect with their past and also question the lives they are leading right now.
interview with ELİF REFİĞ The fact that your film takes place in the shipyards of Tuzla creates an expectation of a socio-realistic genre; however it’s completely the opposite with a very lyrical, dream-like tone to it. Is there possibly an attempt to overthrow the commonly used setup of location in contemporary Turkish cinema? While forming the visual language of Ferahfeza (Ships) I was very precise in selecting locations that would thematically support the main conflict in the film. The characteristics of the shipyards in Tuzla, with the sharp, fixed non flexible stance, a daily strict routine and the evidence of fear and conservative feeling actually coincides with the similarities of Ali and Eda’s daily routines. This constricted setting is both the reason Ali and Eda go after a dream as well as being what introduced it. They persistently follow this dream in an environment that doesn’t condone dreaming but on the other hand has also created this opportunity for them. With predominantly medium scale shots and camera work based on closely following the actor’s, they become camouflaged into their surroundings but then they persistently make themselves become ‘re-seen’ by the camera. Persistence and belief are their most distinct traits. The time and location references in Ferahfeza (Ships) are intended to be vague. The story could be taking place anywhere regardless of city, area or time. I think that places like Tuzla, especially industrial areas that have not yet managed to catch up with world technology harbour this feeling of timelessness and a non specific location within themselves. The feeling I want Ferahfeza (Ships) to leave the viewer with is that moment when we see something and think it’s a dream or that moment right after you wake from a very real dream and enter this dazed state, trying to figure out what’s real. My only intention was to create a world of film that would serve this momentary feeling. In the latest period in Turkish cinema, especially with directors making their debut features it is true that the story comes to life from the initial feel the location presents. I don’t have anything against that. However, cinema has always mesmerised me in the way it enables the ability to places morphing into completely different characters according to the story being told.
Ferahfeza (Ships) is a story of escape. There’s a sentence in the film that implies romantic love may not only harbour the desire for escape but may be the core reason for it. In your opinion is love more dominant in the film or the feeling of desire? Ferahfeza (Ships) is more a story of searching rather than escape. Ali has this feeling of longing but for whom or what is unknown. He questions his identity beyond the borders of persona drawn out by environmental factors and the social norms. He feels the need to pursue a better life with which he can connect spiritually and dive into a deeper understanding of detail. Ali is a character who believes in unconditional trust and the state of belonging as a whole. His search isn’t motivated by obligation but motivated by faith. The intersecting descriptions of love are that despite all the difficulties our hero encounters on his journey, his faith never subsides in finding at his final destination that naive form of humanity we once all had before meeting the order of the world. This kind of belief is also evident in divine love descriptions from different geographical areas. The romantic love between Ali and Eda strengthens as the meaning of their search becomes obscure. For as long as believing in their love means believing in their journey, they will be unable to give up on one another and their journey. When looked at this way the statement of romantic love in Ferahfeza (Ships) and the yearning for love are equals.
You’ve used romantic punk as the film’s description. Was the destructive / rebellious characteristic of the punk aesthetic something that essentially came along due to filming a romantic story in an industrial setting? Ferahfeza (Ships) actually has a thematic foundation that analyzes the common matters of punk ideologies. We could discuss themes behind the birth of punk such as the demand for individual freedom, the opposition of organised settlements, rebelling against authority and taking action into your own hands. The characters of Ferahfeza (Ships) each undergo conflicts both inside and out and their way of working through them
are actually parallel to punk ideologies. The film’s box like industrial setting is reminiscent of a ‘status quo’ condition. When characters that are struggling with the monotony of their daily lives are set free in to a setting such as this, rebellion will appear as a dominant trait. On the other hand because they never imagine compensating for their naive characteristics or childlike thrills they become closer to those with similar rebellious behaviour on a romantic plain. The fact that they rebel together adds a constructive layer to the nature of their rebellion. When looked at in this way, I don’t think that the romantic-punk description I made for Ferahfeza (Ships) is more punk or more romantic than any story of comradeship that has taken place in a different geography or among a different set of ideologies.
The film appears to form a relationship between romantic love and rebellious feelings. There is this rebellious but naive boy standing across from this girl, who carries out much darker and destructive acts of rebellion. Was the reflection of opposite gender on each character an intentional act for you? What Eda and Ali have in common is that they’re both warriors. They believe that if they choose to use their right to dream, everyone around them will either abandon them or attack them. It’s the warrior in them that makes a stand against this realisation leading them to risk being abandoned or attacked. However, both experience this process differently. While constructing the characters I never visualised their sexualities apart from their possible presence in my subconscious. When the time had come to make a decision about this I realised that the characters become much richer when the social codes reserved for sexuality in film are played out in reverse. Ali and Eda’s warrior characters are based on the opposite sex within themselves. So when they talk to their warriors, they actually to each other.
cast ali UĞUR UZUNEL eda M. SITARE AKBAŞ raif MERT ASUTAY kısmet HÜSEYİN SEVİMLİ mahmut abi SIRRI SÜREYYA ÖNDER hakan SERKAN ALTINTAŞ ship crew ÖZER ARSLAN father YAVUZ SEPETÇİ mother ŞEBNEM KÖSTEM haluk RIZA AKIN sex shop clerk ENGİN HEPİLERİi pınar PINAR GÖK
director of photography TÜRKSOY GÖLEBEYİ editor EVREN LUŞ, WEI-HSIN YANG original music score OKAN KAYA & AHMET KENAN BİLGİÇ sound MURAT ÇELİKKOL, SERTER ALKAYA art director ÇAĞRI AYDIN written and directed ELİF REFİĞ production coordinator AKSEL KAMBER producer ELİF REFİĞ, MEHMET BETİL production company MUHTELİF YAPIMLAR
poster design ESER YAZICI press kit and website design KAAN AYDOGMUS - www.magnetic-london.co.uk
click on the image above to watch the trailer
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written and directed by: ELİF REFİĞ Ali, a restless romantic and Eda, a graffiti artist, embark on a quixotic adventure through Turkey’s industrial port-cities, hoping to escape the suffocating routine of their daily lives by finding the ship that Ali has only seen in his dreams. www.ferahfezathemovie.com www.muhtelifyapimlar.com www.facebook.com/FerahfezaShips