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BERLINALE 2020 EFM

Onur Saylak and Nadir Öperli • Director and producer of There Are Two Kinds of People in This World

"We open the discussion on how those in power and the people who choose them confront each other in times of crisis"

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- BERLINALE 2020: We caught up with Onur Saylak and Nadir Öperli to find out more about their Eurimages Co-production Development Award-winning There Are Two Kinds of People in This World

Onur Saylak and Nadir Öperli • Director and producer of There Are Two Kinds of People in This World
Director Onur Saylak (centre) and producer Nadir Öperli (right) with writer Hakan Günday

The socio-political drama There Are Two Kinds of People in This World, the sophomore feature by Turkish filmmaker Onur Saylak, was the winner of the €20,000 Eurimages Co-production Development Award at the Berlinale Co-Production Market last month (see the news). Written by Hakan Günday, the project is being co-produced by Nadir Öperli for Liman Film and the director for b.i.t arts. Cineuropa talked to Saylak and Öperli to explore their project in more detail and to find out how the award will help them complete it.

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Cineuropa: Could you give us any more information about your new project, There Are Two Kinds of People in This World?
Onur Saylak
: We are working together with writer Hakan Günday, with whom I also collaborated on my first film, More [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, and on the web series Persona. We always have multiple ideas that we develop together, but this time, There Are Two Kinds of People in This World stood out since it has a very contemporary and strong premise. The story takes place exclusively underground, in a mine. It starts with the president and his entourage’s visit to the biggest coal mine in the country as part of their upcoming election campaign. However, soon after they go underground, the mine collapses, and the president gets stranded with a handful of miners and a journalist. As they wait to be rescued, tensions rise within the group.

Do you have any more information on the setting, and what stage are you at with the script?
OS
: Our film has a claustrophobic setting, and it mostly takes place in a condensed time and space. However, the way Hakan writes the characters and uses the narrative devices truly extends the limits of space and time in the plot, thus giving the story a multi-layered perspective. Each character, through the apparently extraordinary circumstances of their confinement, experiences the situation differently. With clever touches in the script and dialogues, Hakan successfully creates a feeling that the events and characters could be referring to a larger and more complicated world and truth than just the one we see in the coalmine. Hakan has recently finished the third draft of the script and has been working on the revisions following our meetings at the Berlinale. I plan to work with some actors whom I have collaborated with before, and I’m also starting to work with the production designers of More for the set design of our film.

What was the inspiration for you to tell this story, and why does it take place in contemporary Turkey?
OS
: We have had some terrifying mining accidents in Turkey in the past, the most recent and destructive of which was the Soma mine disaster in 2014, which killed 301 miners. Mining and miners’ working conditions have always been an important aspect of the social and political struggle in our country, and this was a great source of inspiration for us when we started developing this story.

Even if our plot and characters are related to the current social and political atmosphere in Turkey, the themes it’s dealing with are quite international. Today, we are witnessing a global rise in right-wing politics. Populist politicians are trying to polarise society with post-truth strategies. Our film provides a way to open the discussion on how those in power and the people who choose them to be in power confront each other in times of crisis.

How helpful will the Eurimages Co-production Development Award be for you?
Nadir Öperli
: First and foremost, it’s very important and encouraging for us that the jury also shared our passion regarding the strength of our project. Moreover, we have been developing this project with our own resources for almost a year now, and the Eurimages Co-production Development Award will make it easier for us to take our script to the next level, and to start casting and production design work for our movie at an early stage. With a more developed package, we hope to speed up our search for co-producers and sales agents.

What were your expectations for the Berlinale Co-Production Market, and what else are you looking for now?
: The Berlinale Co-Production Market was our first co-production market, and we were very curious about the initial feedback we would get from the industry. We had some very good, constructive meetings that gave us ideas and inspiration for our next steps. Of course, we were also expecting to meet potential co-producers and sales agents as well, and the Co-Production Market arranged fairly efficient meetings for us, bearing in mind our full schedule. I think we will get on well with quite a few of the co-producers we met there. It is no exaggeration to say that we found almost everything we were looking for at the Berlinale Co-Production Market. Now it’s time for us to prepare a new version of our script and follow up on all of those positive meetings to turn them into deals.

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