Şenay Aydemir / DUVAR

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), which curates the Istanbul Film Festival, has partnered with the online film streaming platform MUBI, which will screen a selection of films that have previously won awards at the festival.

This year’s Istanbul Film Festival was scheduled to be held between April 10-21, though it was postponed following the coronavirus outbreak, which first hit Turkey on March 11. The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), which curates the festival, has partnered with the online film streaming platform MUBI, which will screen a selection of films that have previously won awards at the festival during the initially-planned dates. 

When the festival was postponed, its director Kerem Ayan spoke with MUBI Turkey director Cem Altınsaray about an alternative solution. 

“I sent Cem a list of all the films that have won awards at the festival up until now. The selection was completely MUBI’s decision. They already engage in excellent curation with their own anthologies. Both sides were pleased with the result,” Ayan said of the twelve films that were chosen. 

Kerem Ayan

“During our first conversation, we decided without hesitation to focus on films that have won awards at the festival within the past ten years. Since I myself have given awards at the Istanbul Film Festival in the past, I know that they can be given to very surprising films. I am happy that with this anthology we are presenting an opportunity to watch award-winning films from the past ten years within the same period,” Altınsaray said. 

Normally MUBI offers a a one-week free trial period, but for the festival, they will be offering one month for free, which will enable viewers to stream the selected films as well as other films streaming on the platform. 

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus epidemic, it is unclear when the actual edition of Istanbul’s 39th Film Festival will be held, and there have been other concerns about Istanbul’s cinema culture following the news of the permanent closure of two well-known independent movie theaters, Beyoğlu’s Atlas Cinema and Kadıköy’s Rexx Cinema.  

This collage photo shows the entrances of Atlas Cinema (L) and Rexx Cinema.

Ayan said that Atlas Cinema will be restored and reopened as a Cinema Museum by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and that Rexx could once again open its doors if it found sponsors or other forms of financial support, adding that things were already difficult enough for the city’s independent cinemas prior to the virus reaching Turkey. 

“Generally when theaters close down, of course festivals can’t be held, or at least they won’t be done the way we know and love. Personally I’m not keen on the idea of an online film festival, I prefer one with theaters and viewers. But we don’t know where this current period will take us,” Ayan said. 

Altınsaray said that MUBI Turkey is currently curating a highly dynamic selection of films, including those from directors Joseph Losey and Jean-Pierre Melville, as well as a screening of all of the films by acclaimed Turkish director Özcan Alper.