Films from ‘unknown countries’ hit screens in Istanbul


The ‘Unknown Cinemas Films Festival,’ organized as part of the 4th United Nations Least Developed Countries Conference, will feature films from unknown cultures across a wide geography from Burkina Faso to Nepal, Bangladesh to Mauritania, Senegal to Bhutan, Mali to Cambodia. The festival runs May 11-17
The festival focuses on African films from the 1960s to present.
The festival focuses on African films from the 1960s to present.

A festival inspired by the 4th United Nations Least Developed Countries Conference is currently taking place in Istanbul and will screen for free 48 films from the U.N.’s least developed country list. The event, from May 11 to 17, will provide a new insight into the culture, history and social dynamics of these “unknown countries.”

The U.N. conference is being hosted by the Turkish Foreign Ministry from May 9 to 13, with the film festival, titled “Unknown Cinemas Films Festival,” running from May 11 to 17. The festival’s consultants include significant names in Turkey’s film sector such as Semih Kağlanoğlu, Gökhan Yorgancıgil, Burçak Evren and Nedim Hazar.

Least Developed Countries is the title given to 48 members of the U.N., and exhibits the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development with domestic income per capita of less than $750. Thirty-three of these countries are in Africa, 14 in Asia and one in the Americas.

With the festival’s compilation, viewers will be introduced to broad visual fields of a wide geography from Burkina Faso to Nepal, Bangladesh to Mauritania, Senegal to Bhutan, Mali to Cambodia. They will discover the lights of unknown cultures and contemplate on reflections of historical insights and difficulties, concerns, problems and joys of modern life.

The festival movies will be shown under five main sections: “Social Memory,” “In Track of the Present,” The Documentary Eye,” “Panorama” and “The Deep Insight.”

Films mainly from Africa

Speaking about the first-time festival, the festival’s general coordinator İhsan Kabil said they had first planned to organize a festival on films of the Developing Eight, or D-8. “Together with a leading statesman from Indonesia, Dipo Alam, we presented a petition to the Turkish Foreign Ministry to organize this festival. But the ministry asked us to organize a festival within the scope of the Least Developed Countries conference. Then we started working for the unknown countries.”

Kabil said within a very short time they had obtained many films. “There is a festival titled Fespaco in Burkina Faso, which is a very small country in western Africa. The festival runs every two years. Our talks with the organizers of this festival accelerated the process and we reached lots of films easily,” he said, adding that they had succeeded to bring together films from the 48 countries on three continents.

“The festival is mostly focused on African films. African cinema is largely influenced by French cinema. Some films are made by their own people while some are collaborations with other countries. We also include documentaries in the festival and show the deep social problems these countries have to as many people as possible,” Kabil said.

Unknown films to reveal unknown history

Kabil said the Unknown Cinemas Festival would feature many cultural values like polygamy and male-dominant relations. “It is possible to see mythological factors in films. There is also a passive struggle against the dominant language of the new world. The festival will show films from the 1960s and since most of the films are from Africa, we will see the historical development of this continent. We can also see local religions and the effect of Islam in these films. Islam is in the region as a peaceful religion. These films are contrary to most Western cinema. You will see unique rhythms.”

The films in the festival will be screened for free at the Kadıköy Moda Movie Theater, the Beyoğlu Movie Theater and the Tarık Zafer Tunaya Culture Center


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