It’s Monday, and I’m starting to write this blog post after coming back from one of our usual movie nights.
This time it was the turn of ‘Kynodontas’ by Yorgos Lanthimos, a movie that had a powerful impact on everybody. When the screening was over, a lively discussion started in the room and kept us for twenty more minutes glued to our seats. While coming back to my room, I continued thinking about it and about how fond I grew of these weekly appointments, and so I decided that I would use them as a starting point to talk a little about my personal ANAMED experience.
I love movies, I always did. I consider cinema the art form I can relate to the most. It was just a matter of time before I would talk about it also with the other fellows here and find a way to make of this passion a communal event (after all, who doesn’t like movies?!). The moment came almost immediately, right after we arrived here in September. I simply spoke to Nebojša, who told me he had recently had an interesting “cineforum” experience while he was a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington DC. And that was it! We decided to have our own film-club, to watch movies together once a week, and since then we have been holding regular screenings every Monday (with only a few interruptions during the winter break).
The system is simple: everybody, taking turns, suggests a title (there are no pre-established themes or genres, though some might say that there is a predilection for artsy movies :P) and this gets announced on our Whatsapp group, so that who is interested just shows up at the established hour. Thanks to this rotation scheme I got to discover movies and directors I had never heard of before, or that I always wanted to watch but for some reason I never did. I guess that one of the most stimulating aspects for me is that (also in this non-academic setting) we get to learn from each other and that we push ourselves out of our comfort zone to get exposed to something new and thought-provoking. Indeed, in some cases the choice of the movie was rather controversial and triggered strong reactions (even leaving the room!).
Beside our in-door cinema, Istanbul is a city that offers many opportunities to cinephiles. Since I arrived, I watched movies at the “International Crime and Punishment Film Festival,” which took place in November; in the same month, I visited with Julien the Italian Cultural Institute, that was hosting the “24th Istanbul International Short Film Festival” (and I think we found our personal winner that day, right Julien?); a couple of weekends ago I went with Aslıhan to the Pera Museum, for an afternoon screening of Sergei Parajanov’s short movies, as part of the exhibition dedicated to the artist. And of course, I cannot forget to make a special reference to the premiere of two documentaries in which two of our friends and fellows had a direct involvement: the first, ‘Tohum (Seeds)’, tells the story of the journey of wheat from Anatolia to Europe, and was realized under the scientific supervision of Burhan Ulaş. The second, ‘Kadın Olmanın Günahı (The Sin of Being a Woman)’, sees the participation of Müge Özbek, who explores the life and work of Nezihe Muhiddin, one of Turkey’s earliest feminists. (Well done guys, we’re really proud of you!!)
Poster of the two documentary‘Kadın Olmanın Günahı’
Cinema was a major topic of discussion also with Pelin, another film enthusiast, and one of the three girls I used to live with when I came to spend two months in Istanbul, by the end of 2014. At the time, I was writing my Master thesis and I used to go every day to the NIT library, located in this same building where I am sitting right now. I remember that during those few weeks I met the ANAMED fellows from that academic year, who very kindly invited me to participate to their academic life (seminars and lectures) and introduced me to this stimulating environment. So, already back then I was enthralled with the atmosphere of Istanbul, the ANAMED center and its community, and I promised myself that I would do my best to get the chance to come back and experience this fellowship firsthand.
Many things have changed since those two months: I left Italy, lived in two different countries, had various life experiences and embarked on a PhD adventure…but after several years, I eventually managed to achieve that goal and I’m in Istanbul again! During my stay here, I have a challenge to face: writing my dissertation. The task is not an easy one (as everybody who’s going through the same process, or did it in the past, knows well), but I consider myself privileged because of all the benefits and the supportive community that I found here, which make every step a bit easier.
Maybe it’s because we’re already approaching the end of this unique experience, but a wave of shameless sentimentality takes over me when I think about the baggage of memories that I will carry when I’ll leave Istanbul and ANAMED…then a music starts playing in my head and, as a cliché, I remember a very iconic and heart-tugging movie scene, the ending sequence of ‘Nuovo Cinema Paradiso’.
What can I say, I have a sweet tooth!