Few beginnings are as promising as that of Turkish filmmaker Selman Nacar (1990). A lawyer by training, he completed his film studies at Columbia University and made his feature debut with Between Two Dawns (2021). The film is a Nephilim co-production and won the WIP Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival, of which our production company is also a member. After premiering the film in the New Directors section of the San Sebastian Film Festival, he won the WIP again in 2022 for Hesitation Wound, also co-produced by Nephilim, which was presented last September at the Venice Film Festival.

An advocate that the script is the key to get financing for a film and that stories must be told from the heart, Nacar praises the role of festivals and advocates for finding “creative solutions” to translate ideas to the screen beyond the budget.

  • You studied Law, but you have developed your professional career in the world of cinema. How and why did you decide to take this path?

As an idealistic young man, I believed that I could bring about change in society with my knowledge of law and that it was my duty to strive for a more just and peaceful life. However, until the moment I decided to pursue cinema as a profession, there was a huge void inside me that I could not describe. For years I changed cities,countriesand universities in search of it, and when I met cinema, this emptiness was suddenly and definitively filled. Those who live in big cities may be familiar with movie sets, but as someone who grew up inUşak, I saw a movie set for the first time in my life when I was walking in GalataafterI started university. I felt that cinema was a profession that fully reflected my personality with its nourishment from many art branches, its philosophical background and field aspect based on organization.

  • You have entered the industry through the big door. You premiered your debut feature, Between Two Dawns, in the New Directors section at San Sebastian and your second feature, Hesitation Wound, in the Orizzonti section at Venice. What has it been like to debut in two of the most important film events in the world?

Creating a film entails a lengthy journey, spanning from conceiving the story idea to its final production. Witnessing the finished product on the grand screen for the inaugural time, surrounded by countless viewers and, notably, the dedicated crew, evokes a sense of magic. I am truly delighted to experience this sensation at prestigious film festivals. Such moments hold immense significance, instilling a profound sense of fulfillment and enabling broader audience outreach, thereby fueling inspiration for future cinematic endeavors.

  • In San Sebastian, in fact, you have won the WIP Europe Award on two occasions, in which The Circular Group participates through the production company Nephilim and which includes post-production and distribution grants. How was the process of submitting your projects to this competition?

During the application phase, we had completed shooting and editing the film, yet lacked the necessary budget for post-production. This led us to apply to the San Sebastian Film Festival WIP. The festival had supported two of my films during their production phases, and truthfully, I couldn’t have achieved the level of post-production quality without their assistance. For me, the San Sebastian Film Festival holds immense value on multiple fronts. It not only provided crucial support for my projects but also holds sentimental significance as the venue where my first film was screened. As such, San Sebastian will always hold a special place in my heart.

  • What do you think is the most important thing when it comes to getting financing and being able to get a film off the ground?

Honestly, I hadn’t considered this question before; my focus was solely on crafting the film I envisioned. While financing a film can be challenging, I firmly believe that a compelling script has the power to attract support, one way or another. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to contemplate how to maximize the quality of the film within the confines of the budget. This entails seeking out creative solutions to ensure the script translates seamlessly onto the screen, regardless of financial constraints.

  • Turkish cinema has been very present in the cinematographic panorama of the last decades with filmmakers such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Reha Erdem and Semih Kaplanoğlu, just to mention a few names. Where do you think it is heading nowadays? Do you consider that, in your generation, there are common features (either in themes, in styles…), that we can talk about a movement such as the New Turkish Cinema was in the 90s?

It’s challenging to generalize for my generation, but given the recent tumultuous years in Turkey, both economically and politically, I’ve noticed a distinct reflection of these experiences in cinema. Unlike earlier directors who perhaps employed a more subdued approach with the camera, there’s now a noticeable trend towards a more dynamic and active cinematography. I believe this shift may stem from the prevalent anger and societal issues being woven into the fabric of storytelling. Filmmakers seem to be channeling these emotions and challenges into their narratives, resulting in a palpable intensity and urgency in the visual language of contemporary Turkish cinema.

  • What advice would you give to a young person who wants to go into film?

Creating a film is an incredibly daunting endeavor, demanding a profound connection with the art of cinema. It’s a journey that requires more than mere technical skill; it necessitates a deep understanding of why you’re compelled to tell this particular story. Every filmmaker must introspectively ask themselves: What drives me to create this film? Within that answer lies the essence of what will make the film truly special. It’s vital to keep this guiding principle close to your heart and mind throughout the filmmaking process, allowing it to infuse every frame with authenticity and purpose.

  • What are the three films that you consider essential in your life?

Blue – Krzysztof Kieślowski

Taste Of Cherry – Abbas Kiyarüstemi

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days – Cristian Mungiu