by cansu

Biz kadınız bayım, ismimiz yok bizim. Çiçek, şarap ya da et veya motor değiliz; kadınız sadece. Unutmayın bayım; kadının adı yok. Tecavüze uğrayıp yakılanımıza Özgecan diyoruz, tecavüzcüsünü öldürdüğü için müebbet yiyenimize Nevin. Çocuk yaşta evlendirilirsek Ünzile oluyor adımız, buna dayanamayıp intihar edersek Suzan... Müzik yarışmasına katıldığı için töre cinayetine kurban gidenimizi Mutlu diye çağırıyorlar, sevdiği adama kaçıp töre cinayeti adıyla öldrülenimizi Fidan... Kadının adı yok bayım. Kadının adı yok. Sadece hikayesi ve elinden alınmaya çalışılan hayatı var.
herkesin bir beklediği vardır illaki, ama en çok kimi bekliyorsan o gelmez.
—  Ezel
Filmmaker’s Series: Dinner for Two

Filmmaker’s Series showcases the films of independent filmmakers while shedding light on their works and the art of cinema through an insightful interview with the filmmaker.

An original take on the love story and a memorable example of film’s golden rule “show, don’t tell,” Dinner for Two highlights the realities of courtship and social interaction by blending realism, comedy, and philosophy. Where some filmmakers are too obscure or too forward in their delivery of a message, Cansu Turan allows the viewer to experience its message: human connection is complex and the real world is not a bed of roses. With a unique and engaging work that puts human nature under a microscope, Turan proves that short films can be rich in layers and meaning. Discover more about the making of Dinner for Two and follow filmmaker Cansu Turan on Twitter and Vimeo.

It is always interesting to learn about the inspirations behind a film. What inspired the story of your first film and your choices as a director in presenting this story through a visual narrative–frames within frames, use of space, the interplay of reflections, there is a lot being visually communicated?

I am currently completing my masters degree in Film Drama in Istanbul and our professor challenged us to tell a compelling story without the use of dialogue. I initially set out to tell a simple story of different classes within our society and how the class system affects our perception of individuals within the system. However, feeling that this subject has been done thousands of times and not wanting to beat a dead horse, I decided to make the story more of a personal struggle of self reflection and facing the realities of life.

With the use of space and emptiness I wanted to convey a feeling of hopelessness and solitude which would eventually lead our main character down the path of trust for a stranger who shows the slightest sign of intimacy and compassion.

With regards to using frames within frames I aimed to make the audience feel as if they were watching a performance within a performance. As our main character is sucked in by the show put on by the stranger on the other side of the window I wanted the audience to be entertained by his actions but also empathize with our lead and her need for any interaction even one with barriers.

Wanting to show that life and the people we are surrounded by may not always lead to happiness and fulfillment of our emotional needs, I decided to throw a curve ball at the end of the film triggering a sense of reflection for our main character which is win in some respect but at the price of a broken sense of trust and ultimately leading to a pessimistic approach to all aspects of life in general.

Those emotional and psychological notes are definitely felt in your film, and it was eye-opening to see the unraveling of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s idea that people are forced to wear “public masks” due to social conventions and unequal social structures. Does the more philosophical significance of your story and film come before the writing or as you immerse yourself in the process?

I usually aim to hit some of those emotional and psychological notes while writing my stories but tend not to get too immersed in them from the get go. Generally I favor letting the characters I create dictate the philosophical significance. I find that this also helps with creating a more natural cohesion between my characters and the story I am trying to tell. In terms of touching on Jean-Jacque Rousseau’s idea of the public mask, I believe it’s only natural at this idea comes to mind when you decide to use characters from differing social classes in your film. However, despite having these two characters my intention was to break away from the socio-cultural struggle and delve deeper into the lead actors personal struggles, her sense of betrayal and ultimate feeling of emotional isolation.

What were some of the challenges in bringing your story into film production?

For me the biggest challenge was finding actors I felt comfortable working with. Being my first film I wanted to find actors who would make it easy for me communicate my thoughts and ease the process of directing them. Fortunately I was able to find two wonderful actors who were a pleasure to work with and helped every step of the way in making the film. Additionally, like every independent film maker budget and time restrictions played a big part in the final product, but I believe I was able to produce the best film I could with restriction I had.

What insight from your filmmaking experience can you share with others about to endeavor in their first films?

After finishing the film I realized that I made a huge mistake with not shooting more. The best advice I can give anyone looking to make their first film is to just do it. It won’t be perfect, you likely will never make a perfect film but the more you film and the more you practice you craft, the closer to perfect you will get.