Interview made by Tara Katajica during Berlin Film Festival is now online at this link
How and why did you get into Film?
Mediha Didem Türemen: Thinking about bringing a story to life has always been magical to me, ever since my childhood. When I was studying International Relations, I was also acting in the University’s theater community and one day, I saw a short film script competition. I sent my short film script and won! Because I wanted to shoot it, I went to a short filmmaking workshop and then entered the film industry and started working in film production. Later, I also completed a Master’s in Film.
You are a multifaceted artist who works both in Film and Fine Arts and believes in the following motto: “dream – discover – create – act”. How do you combine these two arts and how does this motto in fit into your work?
M.D.T.: All of these arts feed each other and keep your thinking fit. You always catch yourself thinking about them, you get inspired by everything that’s happening around you. So working in different branches helps you combine easily and makes you feel more independent.
You also do photography, which began at film festivals and with a seagull in the fog in Venice in 2010, and resulted in you learning to etch and engrave, which then led to your first engraving and photography exhibition called “Following the Seagull” at the Selvin Gallery in Instanbul in 2013. Can you talk about this experience?
M.D.T.: Working on photography makes me relax. It’s like therapy. The first photo is the photo that led to my first solo exhibition. It is one of the rare photographs I get excited about. I was one of the players to take part in a performance at the Venice Bienniale’s International Theater Festival. I was in Venice in February for the rehearsals that took place early in the mornings. One of these mornings, I woke up and there was no San Marco Square! It was completely bathed in fog. In such a poetic atmosphere, seagulls had the leading role. Then, I realized that I had followed many seagulls that day.
Can you talk about your other artwork?
M.D.T.: My uncle is an artist. He makes prints, he paints, he sculpts… I kept wondering about the way an engraving is done. And the engravings I made were exhibited during my first solo exhibition. But this interest became serious after receiving a prize at the Biennale in Florence. And then other biennials, group shows, art fairs came. Some of my prints were added to collections of museums. The latest museum acquisition is the most important one for me: the Albertina Museum bought my woodcut print for its permanent collection. Being included in the same collection with Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Dürer, Picasso… It was exciting to even imagine it, but then it became real, so imagine the excitement then!
Returning to Film, you also played the leading role in the film Winds, for which you also worked as art director, and then you were invited, as an actress, to the Theatre Sector of the Biennale di Venezie for The Limits of Theatre directed by Calixto Bieito, you were one of the performers of the 2011 International Contemporary Theatre Festival and you were invited by the Kevin Spacey Foundation for Kevin Spacey’s workshop in 2011…How does acting fit into your work?
M.D.T.: Actually, the acting and theater experiences have existed since childhood. Later, I participated in acting trainings and workshops. Thus, I have experienced the backstage and front sides of the camera. This was an advantage for me as someone who likes to work and learn in all areas of Cinema. Winds is my first film experience, and it’s also the lead role. I was also an art director for this film. It was a great experiment for me. I feel that such experiences feed all my artistic practices.
You were also the production designer on Selim Evci’s feature film, Two Lines, that premiered in the Critics’ Week at the 65th Venice Film Festival. Can you talk about that?
M.D.T.: I worked as a production designer for the first time the first time I worked on a film. We had a very small team, but we did a lot of big things. After filming, I undertook the responsibility of international relations. The Venice Film Festival called me to inform me that the film was selected in Competition. It was like a dream! Then, I called the director who was also the producer. A dreamy process started then and we showed the film in many countries. For me, it was an important experience to see all the stages of a film production.
What is the situation of the Turkish film industry?
M.D.T.: Turkey is located in a region with very rich stories. Moreover, the climate and nature offer rich possibilities and locations for film productions. There is a film industry that is improving, but it could be better. We are still making good films with small budgets that attract the attention of the world and we are receiving prizes. This motivation exists in the filmmakers of this magical country.
What is your opinion of women in Film? How are things in that aspect in Turkey?
M.D.T.: Although the number of female directors and film professionals is growing steadily, we still have a restrictive and oppressive situation in an industry dominated by males. But we, female filmmakers, boldly tell our stories and continue to work harder in the film industry. But to maintain reality, it is not just a one-sided woman perspective. I was at the Berlin International Film Festival with female producers whose voices are being heard. While at the festival, with female filmmakers from Turkey, we had the opportunity to talk about these topics. Our potential is high, and new projects are knocking on the door!
What are your next projects?
M.D.T.: In April, I will have my second solo exhibition called “Myths”, inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s mood. Myths focused on situations created as a result of nature being forced to change and the scripts of imaginary time set up outside of time witnessed by photography. The exhibition is also included in the events organized for the 100th birthday of the director that will continue through 2018 and lead by the Ingmar Bergman Foundation. The project will also be at Contemporary Istanbul 2019. I will continue working on photography. On the other hand, I plan to keep writing, producing new projects and dreaming!
This interview was conducted at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival.