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Looking Forward to ‘Looking Back’: Foça Film Days 2023 Opens!

Now in its 6th year, the Foça International Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Documentary Film Festival presents award-winning films from around the world in October, the best time to soak in the atmosphere of this historical Aegean town.

Whether you’re interested in the latest paradigm-shifting archaeological discoveries, the impact of climate change on life in rural Turkey, or how modern technology and attitudes are changing age-old cultural traditions in Turkey and around the world, then you’ll want to be in Foça in the beginning of October for the 6th Foça International Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Documentary Film Festival.

“Foça Film Days 2023” opens on 4 October with outdoor screenings in Foça’s historic Marseilles Square. A total of 27 films from 14 countries will be featured during the Festival, which will continue through 8 October. Films will be screened at the Reha Midilli Cultural Centre on 5-7 October and at the Foça ‘Maritime Museum’ on 8 October. All activities taking place during Foça Film Days – including film screenings, workshops, talks, exhibits and tours of the local archaeological sites – are free and open to the public.

Foça Film Days – Arnaud Sauli – Sheol

Foça Film Days is presented by the Foça Film Platform in partnership with the Foça and Izmir Metropolitan Municipalities and with the support of the local business community in Foça. Additional partners include the Izmir Italian Consulate and Istanbul Italian Cultural Centre, the Izmir French Cultural Centre, the Little Island Festival-European Festival Fund for Emerging Artists (EFFEA), the Canadian Embassy, Yaşar University, and Izmir-based NGOs BAYETAV, Atölye Deneme Sanat ve Ekoloji Derneği, and Kentimiz İzmir Derneği.


With 2023 the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, this year’s program has been organized around the theme of “Looking Back” Opening night will feature two award-winning short documentaries – ‘Ali and His Miracle Sheep’, directed by Maythem Ridha (Iraq, 2021) and ‘The World on My Head, directed by Yalçın Çifçi (Turkey, 2022) – plus the premiere of a local Foça production directed by Dilek Kaya. Her film, ‘Hard-Hearted’, was shot in Foça as part of a 2-day workshop led by guest director Luca Lucchesi that took place during last year’s Festival.

This year, thanks to a grant from the EFFEA, Foça Film Days will be offering an extended workshop led by Visiting Artists Alexander Zilos and Ioanna Lykou, in partnership with the Little Islands Festival from Sikinos, Greece. Documentary film directors from Greece, Italy, France and Tunisia as well as Turkey will also be attending Foça Film Days in person and interacting with the audience in Q&As following the film screenings.

Foça Film Days – Yalçın Çiftçi ‘Başımdaki Dünya’ – Adiyaman kadınların başlıkları

Among the visiting directors will be Hasan Özgen and Ertuğrul Karslıoğlu, two important names in documentary filmmaking in Turkey. In addition to attending the screenings of their latest films (Mom, the Turks are Coming! and In Front of Their Homes), Ertuğrul Hoca and Hasan Hoca will take part in a panel discussion on documentary filmmaking. Joining them on the panel will be director Sezer Ağgez and producer/director Enver Arcak, whose film Forty Years After Fatma will be on this year’s program. (Full disclosure: Ağgez and Arcak first met in 2018 at the first edition of Foça Film Days!)

Another highlight of this year’s program will be the screening of Angelos Kovotsos’ The Quay. The film, based on the book ‘The Waterfront of Smyrna’ by George Poulimenos and Achilleas Chatziconstantinou, documents in incredible detail the history of ‘Gavur İzmir’s waterfront development between 1875 and 1923. Both Kovotsos and Poulimenos will be in Foça for the screening of The Quay and a post-screening discussion led by Ferhat Kentel of BAYETAV (Bir Arada Yaşarız Eğitim ve Toplumsal Araştırmalar Vakfı).

Archaeologist-led walking tours of the town centre and stands promoting agricultural products from the surrounding area as well as the work of local artisans are a regular part of Foça Film Days. This year, the work of the talented members of FoKoop will be on display at the Reha Midilli Cultural Centre. Also at the cultural centre will be the exhibit “Veysel Gider Adı Kalır” (“Troubadour Veysel: His Name Lives On”), featuring memorabilia from the collection of Nazender Süzer Gökçe and Gürsel Gökçe. This important exhibit, on view in Foça through 15 October, has been organized in conjunction with UNESCO’s declaration of 2023 as the year of Aşık Veysel in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of this important representative of the “Ashik Tradition”, part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Foça Film Days 2023 Maythem Ridha ALI_AND_HIS_MIRACLE_SHEEP-6

Foça Film Days’ program reminds us that the world is filled with a rich array of local cultures. By introducing audiences to the richness of the world’s cultural heritage, Foça Film Days hopes to encourage preservation of the world’s cultural heritage and respect for cultural differences while reminding us of how much we share in common as human beings.

In addition to the activities in Foça, a 1.5-hour on-line program will be available for viewing on the Foça Film Days YouTube channel throughout the length of the Festival. Details can be found on the festival website and on Instagram/Facebook @focafilmdays.

Foça (ancient “Phokaia”) is located about an hour north of downtown Izmir. Public transportation (İzban light rail-metrobus connection) is available to Foça from the Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport and central İzmir.

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