I was very proud when my film Can was the first film from Turkey to be shown at the recent Sundance Film Festival where it received the "World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Artistic Vision." This recognition further established Turkish films as a powerful voice in world cinema.
Can tells the story of a couple, Ayşe and Cemal, who long to have a child. I wanted to explore the somewhat desperate steps a man and woman facing infertility will take in order to create a family. My characters chose to fake a pregnancy and decide to buy a child, which turns their lives into a living hell. Is it a form of insanity to bring a new life into the world? Can anything ever prepare us for the struggle of becoming parents?
Left alone with her new baby, Ayşe is despondent and depressed. No matter how hard she tries, she cannot accept that she is now a mother. We assume that the maternal instinct is so strong that it will eventually overcome any obstacles. But what if a mother can't bond with her baby, particularly when that child is not her own flesh and blood?
My couple finds themselves completely alone dealing with circumstances they could never have predicted. All their lives they have been taught that having a child and being a parent fulfills a fundamental need to be part of a society's great plan for all of us. But what if that plan fails and all that is left is an aching void?
As in many cultures, family is extremely important in Turkey. My film raises the questions: are we ever really prepared to create a family? Does society pressure us to have a child and then offer no help when we are overwhelmed and distraught over this new responsibility?
It is my hope that Ayşe and Cemal's story of deception, passion, doubt and ultimately acceptance of the faults we all share as human beings will resonate with American audiences.
Now Can will open "The Space Between: A Panorama of Cinema in Turkey," the largest retrospective of Turkish films in the United States, which opens on April 27th at the Walter Reade Theater in New York.
I am grateful to Richard Peña, the Programming Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, who chose my film along with 28 others to be part of this landmark event, which spans seven decades of Turkish films. My countrymen at the Moon and Stars Project of The American Turkish Society, which organized the program, deserve my thanks as well.
Born in Izmir in 1969, Raşit Çelikezer directed his feature debut Three Apples Fell from the Sky in 2008 to critical acclaim at film festivals throughout the world. His film Can will be shown on April 27th at 6:30 p.m. as part of The Space Between: A Panorama of Cinema in Turkey presented by The Moon and Stars Project, the cultural division of the American Turkish Society, and co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.