International film festival promotes cross-cultural co-operation


The Ayvalik film festival is praised by its international participants and the audience for providing a platform for dialogue and co-operation through movies.

By Menekse Tokyay for Southeast European Times in Ayvalik -- 05/12/13


From left, producer Bülent Yarbaşı of Turkey, film critic Beata Dzon of Poland, Ayvalik Mayor Hasan Bülent Türközen, festival director Nail Pelivan, director Said Manafi of Austria and director A. Ayben Altunç of Turkey pose during the film festival. [Menekse Tokyay/SETimes]

The second Ayvalik International Film Festival (AyIFF) was hailed as a successful four-day event that promoted cross-cultural harmony and regional communication between the Balkans and Turkey.

Nail Pelivan, the festival director, said the mission of the event is to create a space where all people, regardless of their views and nationalities, come together and express themselves through cinema.

"On the other hand, the residents of Ayvalik also get the opportunity to watch some selected movies and meet their creators," Pelivan told SETimes.

This year 565 movies from 50 countries applied to participate in the festival. The festival's jury selected 35 of them to be screened during the festival.

A majority of the movies came from Balkan countries. This year, the festival put a special emphasis on movies from Kosovo.

"The majority of the selected 35 movies were from Kosovo, Serbia, Croatia and Greece. This led to a special Balkan vibe during the festival. The communications between all these film directors, actors and journalists were very inspiring. They watched each other's movies, they made their criticism and expressed their praises," Pelivan said.

According to Pelivan, the festival being as small as it is, ensured that the participants connected with each other and established personal relationships without dealing with bureaucracy or formalities.

"Balkan directors and actors decided to collaborate with their foreign counterparts on future projects," he said.

The municipality of Ayvalik also supported the festival by providing funds and logistics to the organisers.

"Dozens of foreign guests are coming to this small beautiful village and shopping. For instance, our Serbian friends bought locally produced olive oil. The local economy is benefitting from the festival," said Pelivan.

Gabriel Tzafka, a film director from Greece, said the festival has been an important occasion for networking with movie-makers and the international audience.

"It is of such a great value in these difficult periods of economic crisis and extremism around the world," Tzafka told SETimes.

"I really admire the mission of this festival. I believe that this is a small island of peace and harmony in a big ocean. I wish the Ayvalik Film Festival would continue to celebrate the art of movies for many years," he added.

Tzafka's movie "The Leader" was admired by the audience during the festival. The movie is the fruit of co-operation between Serbia and Greece.

Tzafka's movies are no strangers to Turkish audiences.

"It was during the screening of my movies in this country when I realised that Greeks and Turks have more in common than things to separate them. I realised that we were neighbours for real and the Turkish people reacted to me and to my films with great respect and warmness. I am still thankful for that," Tzafka told SETimes.

Burim Haliti, a film director from Kosovo, said that the Ayvalik International Film Festival promotes multi-culturalism through movies.

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"All these movie makers come together and screen their films, discuss cultural co-operation. What the Ayvalik International Film Festival does is very important," Haliti told SETimes.

Haliti, winner of numerous international awards, said he was especially honoured to be a part of the jury this year.

Haliti's documentary film "Invention of Radio" was screened as a part of special attribution to Kosovo. The movie tells the story of Haliti's father, Mufal Haliti, who invented a radio that worked without electricity, battery or solar energy, but by stimulating a precious stone, copper wire and a phone header.

How can the movies promote peace and multi-culturalism in the region? Please share your thought.

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