Altyazı Cinema Association (Altyazı Sinema Derneği) received a grant from our Culture & Arts Fund, for the Altyazı Cinema Magazine Digital Archive project to create an archive that will serve as a fundamental resource for film scholars, journalists, researchers, cinephiles, and anyone interested in cinema. With this project, 144 issues of the magazine, starting from the first issue which was published in September 2001, were digitalised and the archive was opened to access through the website and the mobile application.
Read below our interview:
As of October, film festivals started to be organised in person in different provinces of Turkey. Can you tell us about the transformation of film festivals in the post-pandemic period and their importance to the cinema industry?
After a long period in which everyone felt quite lonely, the value of festivals was once again realised. Festivals are places where films meet their audiences in theatres again and where people working in the industry have the opportunity to communicate with each other. On the one hand, festivals are a breath of fresh air for everyone interested in cinema, and on the other hand, they create hope by bringing daily life and politics into the theatres.
The most striking example was that after the arrest of Çiğdem Mater in the Gezi Trial, the silence of many festivals and culture and art institutions was broken by film crews during the festivals. All the film crews who stubbornly and persistently resisted not to let this be forgotten became a source of hope for everyone. Therefore, apart from festivals and the institutions that organise them, the voice of people who can transform these spaces of unity and make a noise is the real source of hope for everyone.
On the one hand, festivals are a breath of fresh air for everyone interested in cinema, and on the other hand, they create hope by bringing daily life and politics into the theatres.
The demand for digital platforms is increasing day by day. What kind of transformation is cinema going through in a world that is becoming digitalised every day?
Cinema has been in constant transformation since the day it was discovered. After many years of silent cinema, some thought that cinema would die when sound technology started to be used in films. Then television, video cassettes and DVDs came into our lives respectively. The inclusion of new media in daily life has always been perceived as a threat to the cinema, but cinema continues to live on. We can consider digital platforms as the last point of the experience of watching films at home. Home cinema technology, which has extended from television to video cassettes and DVDs, now continues on digital platforms.
You recently completed the Altyazı Cinema Magazine Digital Archive project, which you realised with our grant support. Can you tell us about the work you carried out with this project and the contributions of creating a digital archive to the field?
We started the project with the preparation of the infrastructure required for scanning the archive. We installed the required interface for uploading the magazines to be digitised to the e-magazine reading system and indexing the magazines. After scanning all of the pages of each magazine one by one, the pages were brought together and organised. Following the indexing of each magazine, the archive was opened to users first on the website and then on the mobile application.
As a magazine that has been producing original content on cinema for twenty years, we believe that this digitised archive will be an essential resource for academics, researchers, film industry professionals and anyone interested in cinema. In a country with no national cinema archive, we believe that creating a digital archive of all of our content produced since October 2001 will provide an indispensable resource for our cultural and artistic life.
Most of the arts and culture organisations in Turkey are struggling with challenges such as censorship, freedom of expression and gender inequality, while at the same time trying to sustain their activities with the support of donors.
How has the grant support from our Culture & Arts Fund contributed to your association and your work? Why do you think cultural and arts activities must be supported by different donors?
Creating a platform where everything we have produced collectively for twenty years can be accessed easily has helped us build our organisational memory. It also created a comprehensive and permanent resource for everyone working in the film industry. Seeing everything that Altyazı has produced together has not only given us a breakdown of what we have done but also inspired us to develop a strategy for how we should proceed in the future.
Most of the arts and culture organisations in Turkey are struggling with challenges such as censorship, freedom of expression and gender inequality, while at the same time trying to sustain their activities with the support of donors. This way, these organisations can reach wider audiences and sustain their activities. In a country where the space for culture and arts is shrinking, the support of donors for such projects is crucial.
Can you tell us about the priorities of the Altyazı Cinema Association for the coming period and the activities you plan to carry out?
We believe that the culture and arts journalism that we will continue in 2023-2024 through our website and social media, which prioritises freedom of expression in cinema, will assume a critical role among the shrinking independent media platforms in Turkey. Through our website and social media, we will continue to contribute to the development of a democratic, pluralist and libertarian discourse in the field of culture and arts; to increase the visibility of free cinema actors; and provide readers with access to qualified, reliable information and criticism.
About Altyazı Cinema Association
Altyazı Cinema Association aims to re-strengthen independent cinemaʼs ability to occupy a critical space in the cultural politics of Turkey. Moreover, the association aims to increase the visibility of filmmakers at risk and who have limited access to exhibition spaces through publicity and knowledge production with its platform Altyazı Fasikül.