YIDFF 2005 New Asian Currents
Keep the Change
An Interview with Savaş İlhan (Director)

The Violence of an Oblivion That Robs Experience

Q: Did the government censor broadcasts about the prison strike incident that appears in the film?

SI: The government didn’t impose any broadcast restrictions, and the whole incident was aired from start to finish. So, citizens watching the news naturally should have known about this strike. However, we wanted to document the fact that as time passes the public quickly forgets, even though they knew about it when they were watching the news. The problem is that people think the incident itself isn’t important, and they throw it out without further thought. We made this film to warn that the same thing can happen with economic problems, government policies and citizen’s issues. We focused on the fact that only the people directly involved with the incident keep on remembering, but the general public around them forget once the incident has passed.

More than the political background, the important point is impaired memory and forgetting. So, it wasn’t that we wanted to tell people about this strike incident. We just happened to pick this incident.

Q: The people in the film seem to be portrayed like victims with regrets who were dragged into the incident and sustained a lot of damage because of their participation in the strike. That point bothered me.

SI: I think that the people who really remember the strike don’t have any regrets. They joined the hunger strike because of their convictions. They resisted the government’s “F type” isolation cells because they rejected an environment where you can’t live freely. Once you’re in an “F type” isolation cell, even in a luxurious place like that, you have to stay there all day without being able to do anything. They asserted it was a human rights violation, and they started a hunger strike to express their will. So, their sad and regretful look shouldn’t have anything to do with the injuries that they sustained. Their activism was for the citizens of Turkey. It’s true that as a result, this is what has happened now. But, they are sad because the public has forgotten the reality, even though they put their lives on the line to let the public know. It’s not distress or sadness about the injuries they sustained.

Q: What was the most difficult thing about shooting this film?

SI: We decided everything about the production through discussions among five people, and if the five of us didn’t agree, we didn’t move forward. It took two or three months to decide on the theme. Then, since it is a documentary we needed to be accurate. As for the government’s demands, what would be easy to understand. For the victims, what kind of expression would make their message understood. The most difficult thing was making those choices. I was the cameraman and editing supervisor, and the hardest thing was the montage (basic film editing technique of going for a specific effect by editing together multiple short images).

(Compiled by Otake Mai)

Interviewers: Otake Mai, Kusunose Kaori / Interpreter: Kawashima Emiko
Photography: Sato Akari / Video: Sugawara Keiko / 2005-10-08