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Turkish Cinema: The New Generation – Tolga Karacelik, Director ‘Butterflies’

Turkish cinema has become a regular fixture on the international festival circuit these days, represented most recently by first time features, such as Ceylan Ozgun Ozcelik’s media censorship-themed “Inflame,” which bowed this year in Berlin, and Emre Yeksan’s dystopian drama “The Gulf” which launched from Venice.

Variety has profiled several other directors, writers and producers who signal that a new generation is emerging within Turkey’s vibrant, albeit turbulence-riddled, film scene.

Tolga Karacelik, was born in Istanbul in 1981. He got a law degree in Turkey before moving to New York to study film, after writing some short stories and poems. His 2010 first feature “Toll Booth,” about a Turkish toll-station worker with a vivid imagination, scored critical kudos on the international fest circuit. He second film “Ivy,” set aboard a stranded cargo ship, premiered at Sundance in 2015, was shown at more than 30 festivals and scored multiple nods.

Karacelic’s upcoming third feature “Butterflies,” which is in the Antalya Film Forum’s Work in Progress platform, is a comedy of sorts prompted by the death of the director’s late uncle Mazhar Candan, who was a poet.

“I’m 35 years old. I feel like death is still far away,” says Karacelic. “While I still feel stronger than death, I wanted to write a comedy where death is a character but not significant enough to be the lead.”

“At Mazhar’s funeral I gave a speech and said: ‘He always wanted to be an underground poet; he finally is’,” he notes.

“No one laughed, but I thought it was funny. And I’m sure if Mazhar had been there he also would have found it funny.”

“I wrote this movie to make Mazhar smile.”


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