Supported by the Turkish government, the IMFF will be held online between 14 - 21 June.
This is the International Migration Film Festival’s inaugural year. Initially scheduled to take place in the city of Gaziantep, in southeastern Turkey, it was moved online after the coronavirus pandemic caused a change in plans.
About 50 films from over 25 countries will be screened online free of charge between the dates of 14 and 21 June 14. The International Migration Film Festival website will offer links to reserve tickets with free membership. The films can be screened over computers, tablets and smartphones.
“This festival aims to promote films which tap into the migration experience and also features films produced by, directed by, and starring immigrants and refugees”, says the Honorary President of the festival, Oscar and Golden Globe winner F. Murray Abraham, himself the son of a Syrian refugee.
Abraham received accolades in 1985 for his portrayal of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s rival Antonio Salieri in Milos Forman’s “Amadeus”, a film that was awarded eight Oscars and four Golden Globes.
According to IMDB, the Internet Movie Database, Abraham is “the first person with ancestry from an Arab country to have received an Academy Award for Best Actor. Rami Malek, who won for Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), is the second.”
“As the son of a man who migrated from Ottoman Syria to the US, I understand and identify with the issues of migration,” Abraham says.
The famed Hollywood actor adds that the International Migration Film Festival “promotes films which tap into the immigration experience and also features films produced by, directed and written by and starring immigrants.”
The festival is supported by Turkey’s Presidency, Interior Ministry, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Directorate General of Migration Management and many more.
There will be an International Feature Film Competition “that promotes filmmakers around the world who work and create films on migration”, say the organisers.
The acclaimed Turkish director, Nuri Bilge Ceylan –– and winner of the Palme d’Or, the top prize at Cannes, for “Winter Sleep” –– will head up the jury.
Other members of the jury include American actor Danny Glover, best known for acting as Mel Gibson’s partner in the “Lethal Weapon” series, Chinese actor Zheyuan Chen, British costume designer and three-time Oscar winner Sandy Powell, Danish director Lone Scherfig whose “An Education” was nominated for an Oscar, multitalented Bosnian actor Emir Hadzihafizbegovic, and Iranian actor Shahab Hosseini, who won the Palme d’Or for his role in Asghar Farhadi’s “The Salesman”.
The festival’s prize for the best feature film is 15,000 euros, while the most inspiring thematic script will take home 5,000 euros.
Films in the competition are “The Merger” by Mark Grentell, “Midnight Traveller” by Hassan Fazili, “Scent of My Daughter” by Olgun Ozdemir, “Just Like My Son” by Costanza Quatriglio, “Omar and Us” by Maryna Er Gorbach and Mehmet Bahadir Er, “Oskar & Lilli” by Arash T. Riahi, “Rafael” by Ben Sombogaart and “For Sama” by Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts.
Another prize is reserved for a short film that focuses on migration and its effects on children. The UNICEF International Short Film Competition awards 5,000 euros to the filmmaker who wins.
“I believe that this festival will play a role in helping this issue to become more understood, talked about and discussed more,” says actress Tuba Buyukustun, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and a member of the jury for the short film competition.
The coronavirus effect
The International Migration Festival isn’t the only one that has had to shift its screenings online. Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts [IKSV] Film Festival, traditionally held in April across theatres in Istanbul, also has moved to the web, screening a selection of 15 films in May.
Due to the popularity of the scheme, IKSV has announced it will continue its online screenings in June - to be accessed from Turkey only - showing films in their original language with Turkish subtitles. This month’s picks will each be screened for five days, with tickets allowing access online from 9pm.
Moreover, Germany’s Goethe Institut in Turkey is also digitally sharing a collection of films called Goethe on Demand, available via Vimeo for free until June 30. Most films have subtitles in English.