Paris-based sales company MPM Premium has boarded emerging Turkish helmer Azra Deniz Okyay’s “Ghosts” (“Hayaletler”), which will compete this year at Venice’s Critics’ Week.
“Ghosts,” a promising feature debut by Okyay, is being represented in international markets by MPM Premium’s New Visions label, which is dedicated to promising directors, from Karim Aïnouz to Wanuri Kahiu (“Rafiki”). “Ghosts” is the first Turkish film since 2018 to feature in the Venice program.
A roaring tale of the contemporary generation, “Ghosts” is set over a day, against the backdrop of a nationwide power surge and follows four characters from very different walks of life who cross paths through a web of drug trafficking in the ghettos of Istanbul.
The film weaves the stories of a mother whose son is in prison, a young woman committed to dancing, a female activist-artist and a cunning middle man, all in a neighbourhood under the process of gentrification for the “New Turkey.” The cast is headlined by Nalan Kuruçim, Dilayda Güneş, Beril Kayar and Emrah Özdemir.
“I wanted to tell a metaphoric story of a country sinking into darkness and I used a big power surge to tell it. I made this film against all odds, while every door was shutting to my face,” said Okyay.
“Under these conditions, I wanted to make a film to talk about the main problems of my generation, about people getting poorer and being sent away from their neighbourhoods and about people who are struggling to express themselves freely,” said Okyay, adding that she felt she made “this curvy, multi-layered, dynamic and colourful film which, in (her) opinion, resembles a woman.”
Financially backed by the Doha Film Institute and the Aide Au Cinéma Du Monde from France’s National Film Board, “Ghosts” is particularly timely in light of the rise of religious fundamentalism and conservatism in Turkey. Netflix recently had to cancel its TV series “If Only” (“Simdiki Aklim Olsaydi”), which was supposed to be produced and shoot in Turkey, due to a row over the show’s gay character.
“Ghosts” is produced by Dilek Aydın, Heimatlos Films in Turkey, in coproduction with MPM Film.