DIRECTOR Özgür Anil’s short film Morning Person will be shown at the BFI London Film Festival on 12 and 14 October. We spoke to Özgür about the film, falling in love with cinema and the directors he admires.
Q: ‘Morning Person’ will screen at the BFI London Film Festival. What can you reveal to us about the film and what inspired it?
A: IT is only five minutes long so I don’t want to reveal too much, but it’s basically about a young woman who is stuck between two worlds.
There were a couple of ideas which led to this film. One of them was experiences from my own life. Although the movie isn’t based on real events, the emotions of the character are very similar to my experiences in everyday life. The question of what defines us as a human being was also a driving force for me in this project.
I had the desire to make a short film that works with the short form itself. I didn’t want to make a shortened feature-length film, but rather something that can only be told in a short film, something simple and complex at the same time. I think that’s the real strength of short films.
Q: Why did you choose Nelida Martinez for the lead role?
A: I wanted to work with Nelida because I wanted the character to look like she could be from anywhere in the world and she has that.
I also wanted to show a body that we normally don’t see on the screen. Humans come in so many shapes and forms, but in today’s cinema most of the bodies we see look the same. Nelida had never acted in a film before so I am very grateful that she took that big risk with me.
Q: When did you first fall in love with cinema?
A: PROBABLY when I was around 15 or 16. At that time I was in awe of Darren Aronofskys and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s movies. I didn’t think I was ever going to be a director, but I was young and their melodramatic stories had a big impact on me. I still like their work but my taste has changed completely, I must say.
Q: Please tell us more about your background and the cinema you are interested in now?
A: I currently study directing at the Filmacademy Vienna in the class of Michael Haneke and Markus Schleinzer. I also work as a film critic and journalist which allows me to watch 5-6 movies a week.
The cinema I love is not primarily about storytelling, but much more about atmospheres and visuals. I admire well-written scripts but there are only 4-5 movies a year that really have an impact on me. The way a film is dealing with time is really important for me.
Q: Can you pick one or two filmmakers and actors of the moment that you really admire?
A: THE directors I always carry with me are Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Carlos Reygadas, Joachim Trier and Andrey Zvyagintsev.
For me it’s not so much about what stories they tell but much more the way they do it. Their perspective on life is something I feel very close to. With every movie they are taking new risks in a formal or emotional way. They push the limits of what cinema can be. For me Reygadas, although he won several major awards, is the bravest and most underrated filmmaker of our time.
Q: What type of films do you hope to make in the future?
A: I want to make feature fiction films, but I don’t know what type they are going to be. Although I never planned it, my short films have always turned out to be about generation conflicts so maybe that’s something that will carry on.
Q: What does it mean to you for the ‘Morning Person’ to screen at the BFI London Film Festival?
A: I am really happy to be part of the festival. The movie was rejected by nearly all of the Austrian festivals so for half a year I thought that no one besides my friends would ever see the movie. I forgot that I even submitted the film to BFI so it was a real surprise when it got accepted.
Q: Finally, to celebrate the festival, can you pick your favourite British film, director and actor?
A: I still haven’t had the chance to watch his latest movie but I really like Andrew Haigh’s movies a lot. I regularly watch 45 Years and keep forcing my friends to watch it. Haigh is a master in pacing his stories. I think Weekend was inspired by Ceylans Uza so there is also that connection which I really like.
My favourite British actor is Andrew Garfield. He seems vulnerable and proud at the same time – that’s a real gift, I think.