A Vacation


Camera:RED anamorphic format
Running time: 28 minutes (2018)
Actors: Hüseyin İşçi, Beytullah Korkmaz, Olcan Çakmak, Kahraman Karasan, Mahmoud Karataş
Produced by Mustafa Eroglu & Cem Eroglu
Cinematographer: Nicolas Geissler
Sound design: David Loscher

From the M3 festival catalogue:
Often our ways of travelling are rather reckless, our clumsy attempts to experience a culture is increasing ignorance or resulting in damage and at times our naive wishes to broaden our worldview provoke the exact opposite, reinforcing feelings of superiority and privilege.

Abducting us into a cinematographic world of serene imagery and soothing landscapes we accompany a solitary traveller into the calm of the Turkish highlands. A very different kind of vacation than the one we can witness or experience in the city centre of Prague ensues, not only providing us with stark contrast in order to question growing tendencies to consume cheap, fast and superficial city trips but also addressing questions of lacking freedom of speech, possibilities of criticism and subversive alternatives to protest.

The swift change from the crowded streets of the city center into the cool and quiet cellar are partially intended as a break from the tourist frenzy close by, but we can only lay back and relax briefly, as we realise that underneath the alluring cinematic experience a story of personal protest unfolds, reminding us that the possibility to speak out depends very much on the geo-political context, same as our rights to travel and cross borders – one can be barred from entering a country for uttering unpleasant comments on Facebook, people are being held or imprisoned on pure suspicion with no formal charges – and not only in Turkey, where our lone anti-hero operates, but in many parts of Europe where we are facing transgressions and regression to laws that go against human connection or trust and climates of fear and anxiety are instigated and kept alive to support right-wing agitators by imposing censorship, control and violence into people’s lives and privacy.



Statement by the artist:
Hüseyin İşçi is my friend. We have made two films together in the last eight years.
I was in Turkey on a family visit last year, when during a car ride on the last night of my stay, I was told that he had been imprisoned. It came as a complete shock. “But why?!”, I asked my cousin? He couldn’t provide an explanation. No indictments had been made, all my cousin knew was that he had been sitting in a prison cell for six months. I had seen Hüseyin for dinner a few days before. He hadn’t said anything to me. Ironically I had noticed he had put on weight, and I remembered having made a remark that he “looked like he was enjoying life”.

What is the purpose of this work? To lay bare Hüseyin’s experience in prison, his sense of powerlessness? His experience of being persecuted? What can the work provide? A key to understanding his situation? Can it provide solace for him in making his story known to a greater public? Time will tell. Perhaps it can play a small part in stemming the rise of authoritarian governments and nationalistic  intolerant movements around the world. At least this was my aim here.

One day as we were shooting a pivotal scene in which a police officer interrogates him, I told him he could use the character name Osman Pehlivan (I thought an alias would be a sensible protective measure), but he insisted on using his own name. This film is very much about Hüseyin; who he is, what he stands for and what an act of rebellion and dissent entails in a country where such engagement is becoming increasingly perilous.