Ümit Kıvanç, the director of the short film, ‘Ah Asuman’, adapted from a short story by Selahattin Demirtaş, the imprisoned leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), replied to questions by viewers on the Youtube channel of Altyazı cinema magazine.
The online gala for the film took place on 1st of September, a day traditionally celebrated as World Peace Day in Turkey.
Asked to comment through a film maker’s eye on the works of Demirtaş who had three story books published while he was in prison, Kıvanç said his stories provided such fertile ground for adaptation to film.
“The stories of Selahattin Demirtaş are so adaptable for the screen,” he said. “He is such a very good observer. He is also so talented at catching hidden details in events and characters through a zestful, humorous perspective.”
While the 15-minute short film was shot almost entirely in a bus packed with people, Kıvanç explained that most of the cast were volunteers.
“We had a whole bus of background actors with only seven or eight coming through a casting agency,” he said. “The rest were friends, family; some of them professionals from the filming industry… Except for the ones who were picked by an agency, all came as volunteers, to willingly contribute to the film. Simply because they’d loved the story and because they thought taking part would be meaningful.”
Kıvanç was asked if Selahattin Demirtaş had the opportunity to watch the film.
“Of course not. How could he?” he answered, adding though that he himself, however, had watched the film together with Başak Demirtaş, the wife of Selahattin Demirtaş, and their two daughters, Delal and Dılda.
“They liked it and I was so very pleased that they did,” he continued. “I heard that during a prison visit the girls have told their father a lot about the film. There was nothing else we could do. I wish he was here and we could watch it together. How great it would be if he said he liked the adaptation; or even if he could only say something about it, like ‘well done’… We made a film; it’s actually something that calls for a celebration. But when we think of the film, we also think of him; the man who’s in prison with no reason for so many years. Then we start thinking of all the others in similar situations. The whole thing is lived through such strong emotions. How else can it be?”
Three story books by Selahattin Demirtaş, titled ‘Devran’, ‘Leylan’ and ‘Seher’, all written in prison, have been published since his arrest in November 2016.