Story of self-taught filmmaker Ahmet Uluay told in documentary

Ahmet Uluandcay was a self-taught filmmaker praised both at home and internationally for his sole feature-length film, 2004and’s and”Karpuz Kabuiundan Gemiler Yapmakand” (Boats out of Watermelon Rinds), a semi-autobiographical tale of two village kids trying to screen their own movie by collecting discarded film reels from the local movie-theater, set in Uluandcayand’s hometown of Tepecik.
Before his death from a brain tumor in 2009, aged 55, Uluandcay had been working on his second feature, and”Bozkirda Deniz Kabuiuand” (Seashell in a Wasteland), also filmed in Tepecik, which is now the name of a documentary feature about the late writer-director and actor.
The documentary and”Tepecik Hayal Okuluand” (A Dream School in the Steppes), directed by female filmmaker Ganduliz Sailam, finally had its theatrical release late May, after receiving numerous awards at national film festivals in 2014.
In a recent interview with Todayand’s Zaman, Sailam spoke about her film, Uluandcayand’s last days and her experience working with Uluandcay.
When did you first meet Ahmet Uluandcay and how did you decide to make this documentary?
It was during the late half of the 1990s I was an assistant director. I met Ahmet Uluandcay through ilker Berke, who was Uluandcayand’s director of photography on and”Karpuz Kabuiundan Gemiler Yapmak,and” and who is now the producer of my documentary. [When we met,] Ahmet hadnand’t yet completed his debut feature, but I watched several of his short films and I simply loved them. So I described Ahmet — his talent, his feature-length screenplays and the fact that he couldnand’t find a producer despite all this — to a visiting team [of producers] from Germany. At first they seemed interested however, it didnand’t produce an outcome. So later we decided to make a documentary feature in which weand’d describe Ahmet to [filmmakers and producers in] Europe. Just as we started working on the documentary, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and he had to have a major surgery. And so since we were his friends, we were by his side all through his treatment process. The first parts of the footage were shot during that period, as he went from one hospital to another for treatment, but in actual fact, we werenand’t aiming for [a film] about his ailment.
Did you sense there was a bumpy ride ahead at the time?
Actually, no. Not at all. On the contrary, weand’d thought, and”Weand’ll start shooting now and weand’ll continue [when heand’s fully recovered].and” We had something different in our minds the hospital scenes were actually meant as the beginning sequence of the documentary, but somehow people think theyand’re his final moments. However, we have behind-the-camera footage from the time when he was shooting and”Bozkirda Deniz Kabuiu.and” Those were his final moments. But as a personal choice, I decided not to use that footage in my documentary.
In a previous interview you said the hospital scenes were shot secretly.
Well, actually all of it was meant to be secret footage. As it is, we didnand’t apply for any official permission to film [in the hospital]. Our camera was a small hand-held type, one that tourists often use, and no one really noticed it. We used to [shoot] while chatting with Ahmet as we waited [for his doctorand’s appointment] and sometimes Ahmet would shoot us on the same camera, which really helped all of us deal with the overwhelming sadness and severity.
Why did you choose Ahmet Uluandcay and not another filmmaker?
All we ever wished for Ahmet was for him to succeed in his endeavors. So we thought weand’d just do a little something thatand’d help him make his name heard. But the documentary remained incomplete for a very long time. We each had to earn a living and so I returned to becoming an assistant director later other documentaries came up, but this was always on my mind. Then Uluandcay died and this documentary became all the more important. This footage had to see the light of day. Iand’m so glad that we made it.
How did Uluandcay feel about this documentary?
He wanted it to happen. He always thought itand’d help him reach out to more people meet more people. The saddest part is that he didnand’t live to see it.
Uluandcay was a dominant figure did that cause you any difficulty while filming with him?
He was a tough man to deal with. For example, when I wanted to interview his wife, Ayie, for the documentary, he refused. Then I said to him, and”Without Ayie, this documentary will be incomplete.and” She played a very central role in both his life and his career she was always with him during the making of all his films. So when he refused my request it really discouraged me. He would always intervene, and”Not that, but this, donand’t talk to this person, ask this to that person,and” and so on. And although we often had very warm conversations over cinema, he was never an easy person about matters of gender equality. I believe that my final cut of this documentary succeeds in reflecting my personal point of view on that.
Did the project undergo any major changes between when it first started and the final cut?
Eighty percent of the footage in the final cut is from that time [when Uluandcay was still alive]. The rest was shot after his death. But I must say we were lucky some of the early footage was not in good shape. It was really old, but luckily there was no physical harm of critical importance. Only, we had a hard time [fixing] sound and images technically.
Is there going to be a follow-up?
No, because we are two filmmakers from entirely different worlds.
Iand’ve been facing this question a lot lately, but if weand’re speaking about [other filmmakers completing] his incomplete sophomore film, Iand’d say a film cannot be made just for the sake of finishing it. Ahmet had an ideal. There are other ways to make his memory live on. Or perhaps his grandson can finish that film, because he is already into cinema and heand’s incredibly good at drawing.
Could people be asking about Uluandcayand’s incomplete film because they loved him so much and would like to see another film by him?
Yes, there are a lot of people who say they love Uluandcayand’s work. But then Iand’d question those people — my documentary is about Uluandcay and yet it attracts very few viewers, even at film festivals. This is something I can never understand. If people really loved him, then why is this documentary not that popular?

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman