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Reha ERDEM: A New Master of the Turkish Cinema Interview with Reha Erdem (10/26) part 2

Reha ERDEM: A New Master of the Turkish Cinema Interview with Reha Erdem (10/26) part 2

During the Q&A session after the screening, Erdem maintained a reticent attitude throughout, but in the interview, it was memorable that he enthusiastically talked about how he creates characters (figures) and develops images. His comments on figures seem to have much to do with the character setting for "KOSMOS". Here is the second half of the Erdem interview, filled with his love of films and soul-searching.
©2010 TIFF

---You mentioned some names of your favourite film makers during the Q&A about “Oh Moon.” Do you mind telling me the names again?

From the American monochrome filmmakers in the 1950, I like Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, and Otto Preminger. From the Japanese films, I like Kenji Mizoguchi, Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu. In Europe, I like Rossellini, Bresson, Jean Renoir, and Ingmar Bergman. From the modern film makers, Ming-Liang, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” won an award at Cannes this year, and Lucrecia Martel are the three directors who crossed the boundary in the film industry and entered a new frontier. I mentioned that Yasujiro Ozu keeps doing the same thing, but I think a film is one part of a whole thing, and each part makes up the whole. I may have read about it in an autobiography or a diary, but I sense Japanese and sensitive rhythm.

---At the end of “Mommy, I’m Scared,” all the characters come together and hear the two sons screaming “Mommy, I’m scared.” Then the scene changes to the apartment where they live, followed by 9 more cuts of the interior of the apartment and laundry drying in the wind without any people in the frame, before the film ends. This ending is typically characteristic of Ozu.

It was not intentional, but since you’ve mentioned it, it may be so. After various events, anger and caterwauling, scenes of furniture in the house are soothing. Underwear is hung up to dry, old shoes on the floor, etc., these objects help clear the tension. Tolerance is the theme that is why it was originally called “What’s a Human Anyway?”

---I think your latest film, “KOSMOS,” has an unprecedented level of tension, and it will be an important work when you look back on your filmography in the future. You mentioned it in the Q&A that the caretaker of the monastery was called “KOSMOS” in the script, although he did not have a name in the film. You said this character was introduced to lead the unlucky girl to salvation. On the other hand, Kosmos, the protagonist of this film is a mixture of various characters, such as an early man, a healer, a good-for-nothing like the Russian poet, Brodsky, who was punished for not working. What does the development of Kosmos as a character mean to you?

There was another project after “Oh Moon” but I couldn’t do it because of the funding issue. The name of the protagonist was also called Kosmos. I am particular about the name, Kosmos, and the Kosmos in this film did not come from Kosmos in “Oh Moon.” Kosmos is implausible, superman, super hero, and the most idealist man. In my other films men are all useless, but not in this film. He has some manga-like aspect, but he is a person I would like to become most. There is a scene where he treats a sick person, but we cannot see if he is really treating. He steals some money, but he just saves it and does not use it at all. To me, it is even worse if you save the stolen money. Kosmos is generous. He does not slave away to buy a new car, he just refuses to work for a simple reason that he wants to fall in love. He talks about things like a holy book and other people have problems understanding him. But this is the character I would like to follow.

---It was surprising to see the crash of a satellite rocket caused Kosmos to lose his ability as a healer. There was a Soviet satellite called Kosmos in the past, and several thousand satellites, both military and civilian. It is well known that Kosmos 954, with an onboard nuclear reactor, crashed in Canada, spreading radioactive pollution. Viewers will be able to feel many things even without such background knowledge, but did you have in mind the Kosmos satellite incident?

Of course I knew about the satellite. However, I would like to make it clear that Kosmos did not lose the ability as a healer. He can sometimes do it but other times he cannot. He only makes others to believe like that. He cannot heal the teacher, but he heals the asthmatic old man, and the depressed child starts to communicate with others. It may be because of Kosmos, but it may not. Something in life may have caused it. Healer is an entity which indicated the path when various elements match well. People blame Kosmos for not being able to show the way because he is different. On the other hand, those who are in power and military personnel, although they do not bring any benefit to people they are respected. Going back to the satellite, it was made for the filming, and Russian words were written on the body. The crash of the satellite and his loss of ability as a healer are coincidental, but as the Soviet Union and Turkey share the border, some satellites did fall from the sky (laughs). Satellites may crash, but Kosmos seeks to defy the gravity and live on.

(Interviewed by Seijin Akatsuka)

Interview with Reha Erdem part 1

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KEIRIN.JPThe 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
22nd Tokyo International Film Festival(2009)