FNE spoke with Suat Kocer, the Directof of the Malatya International Film Festival, which opens on 6 November 2017. The festival, located in the ancient city of Malatya in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey, features an international film competition and a national competition of Turkish films.
FNE: Suat Kocer, you are a movie critic, a researcher and the managing editor of the journal “Film Arasi”. This year you are the director of the 7th International Malatya Film Festival. How did this journey start and develop for you? What has been your experience so far?
Suat Kocer: The founder of the festival is the former governor of Malatya, Ulvi Saran. Since then, the festival had been held by the Malatya Governorship. This year, a different decision was made and the governorship wanted the Metropolitan Municipility of Malatya to take over. After the Metropolitan Municipality took over the festival, they created a new team and a new vision. So I was offered the position of director of the festival. It was an advantage for us to have the same vision of the future of the festival. We started to work in harmony and we have covered quite a good distance together. As for the experience, film festivals have been a matter that I have always thought sensitively about in my 15 years of being a film journalist. I had done lots of research, interviews, and articles about film festivals. I had lots of dreams about having better festivals in Turkey. Being the director of this festival gave me the opportunity to realise my dreams but at the same time it’s really a big and difficult responsibility.
FNE: You followed the previous years of the Malatya International Film Festival as a journalist, so what can you tell about the differences and the innovations of this year?
Suat Kocer: From now on, MIFF will pay more attention to national cinema. It will pay more attention to the making of these national films as well as their publicity. Aiming for this, we established the Malatya Film Platform this year. We will support two projects in two different sections. We’ll support productions which deal with the positive impacts of having a family with a 100,000 Turkish Liras sponsorship. Again under the roof of our festival, one project that the jury selects will be supported by TRT (Turkish Radio and Television Corporation).
Another new project this year is called “Maybe a Film Comes to the Village”, which will take four films from the festival programme to some villages of Malatya and screen the films there. We will also provide the production of some documentaries about socio-cultural matters in Turkey. Our first documentary is about the 15th July Coup Attempt and reflections on it through the eyes of Azerbaijanis from Turkey and from Azerbaijan. The director is Elçin Musaoglu.
Starting from this year, we are holding extensive symposiums to discuss the matters of cinema industry. Our first symposium was held 22-23 September in Malatya and the title was “The Local Codes in Turkish Cinema”. In this symposium we addressed the history of our cinema’s 100 years in the context of localness and indigenousness. With the International Short Film Festival, the screenings of the short films in big theaters, a focus on awards and innovations, we will work to make this festival better and better.
FNE: What do you think a film festival’s aim is and should be?
Suat Kocer: There’s no doubt that film festivals are irreplaceable events for the cinema industry and for many reasons. Firstly, movies bringing together audiences, national and international film makers coming together, meetings of actors from different branches of cinema, and contributing to the introduction of countries and cities, are among the most important aspects of film festivals. If you ask me, film festivals should blend all these aspects as functionally as possible and contribute to the richness of the cinema culture. So the main objective of a film festival should be cinematic concerns and qualifications rather than some populist and conjunctural concerns.
FNE: What can you say about the differences of MIFF compared to the other festivals in Turkey?
Suat Kocer: MIFF is one of the most reputable festivals in Turkey, which the Turkish cinema industry follows closely. Starting from this year, this festival will proceed on its way with a unique vision, rooted in the local codes of Turkey and aiming to be integrated into a universal view of cinema.
FNE: What was your and your team’s biggest motivation when you were preparing for this festival?
Suat Kocer: Our love and passion of cinema for sure. We really love cinema and we are so proud to be working in this area. Our job is not easy, but both the friendship bonds we have and also the commitment of Malatya Metropolitan Municipility make our work easier and cement our motivation.
FNE: What’s the biggest power of this festival that makes it an “international” one?
Suat Kocer: The first thing that comes to mind is of course the international programme of the festival. The international competitions and the international selections bring together lots of different art works from all over the world. If a festival continues its journey every year, the international relations of the festival go well. MIFF cares about the international dimension of the festival as much as about the national part. Starting from this year, we aim to increase the number of films and guests from all over the world.
FNE: What kind of support does this festival give to the film makers as well as all the festivals?
Suat Kocer: There are countless contributions of festivals to the film industry. Films that are not yet in theaters can be presented to the audience with the help of festivals. Lots of people from the industry come together. The projects also can find some sponsorships with the help of forums and markets.
FNE: What are your expectancies for the future of this festival?
Suat Kocer: I want MIFF to deepen its support of Turkish national cinema and also gain more success with its international dimension.
FNE: As a last word, can you share with us your bond to cinema?
Suat Kocer: When I watched the movie Gelin / The Bride by Lutfi Akad, the great Turkish director, I decided that I had to know more about cinema. That love became a passion with time. Cinema is a very strong bond for me in life. I think cinema is one of the ways to understand and give meaning to life itself.
Interviewer: Melis Zararsız
Sponsored by Malatya International Film Festival