CIRCA Prize 2023 winner Cemile Şahin’s film explores the Southeast Anatolia Project, a controversial dam-building initiative that has had a significant impact on Kurdish communities in Turkey.
— MedyaNews (@1MedyaNews) October 15, 2023
Berlin-based Kurdish artist Cemile Şahin was announced as the winner of this year’s prestigious Circa Prize for her film Four Ballads for my Father – Spring (2022) at a ceremony in London’s Piccadilly Circus on 9 October.
The Cultural Institute of Radical Contemporary Arts (CIRCA), a platform established in 2020 to present digital art in public spaces, has launched the CIRCA Prize 2023 with the theme of hope.
Şahin’s 2.5-minute film tells the story of a Kurdish family divided between Paris and Istanbul. Şahin masterfully incorporates Kurdish television footage and family archives into her film, which delves into the complex narrative of the Southeast Anatolia Project, a controversial dam-building initiative that has had a significant impact on Kurdish communities in Turkey.
“Making a film means hope,” said Şahin upon receiving the award.
“Contributing to this precarious cinema is hope. Above all, it is hope that tells the stories in a language that belongs to 40 million people, even though the Kurdish language has been banned in Turkey. Speaking comes with hope and becomes cinema: that this can be told in a film and thus preserved.”
Şahin’s film navigates the sensitive territory of preserving the cultural heritage of the Kurdish language, which has been suppressed in Turkey for many years.
The artist’s diverse body of work includes film, photography, sculpture and literature.
For the third edition of the CIRCA Prize, more than 1,000 films were meticulously reviewed and screened. In the end, 30 finalists were selected from a pool of submissions from over 20 countries. A distinguished jury of CIRCA artists and long-time collaborators, including luminaries such as Anne Imhof, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Shirin Neshat and Michèle Lamy (who also hosted the awards ceremony), played a pivotal role in selecting the ultimate winner.