New York Film Academy alumnus Oguzhan Akdogan has been working hard to put together the first annual Hollywood Turkish Film Festival in Los Angeles. The festival is designed to promote Turkish cinema in the West and to give young filmmakers an opportunity to network. Akdogan sat down with New York Film Academy Correspondent Joelle Smith to speak about the work he did for the festival and what he’s planning next.
NYFA: How did you become involved with this festival?
Akdogan: The festival founders were looking for a producer who knew Los Angeles County well. I sent an e-mail to them to introduce myself. I knew that I would be a great option for this position because I had been working as a producer for the past 2 years in Los Angeles.
NYFA: Why are festivals like this important to you?
Akdogan: I am a director, producer, and an actor. Naturally, the Hollywood Turkish Film Festival is very important to me. This was an opportunity to represent my country in an international arena. This is the first festival in LA for Turkish filmmakers.
NYFA: Was there anything about putting this festival together that surprised you?
Akdogan: Definitely, yes! Honestly, I did not expect that I needed to contact magazines and newspapers. When the festival director called me, I was really surprised. He mentioned that we would need to run our advert through Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and LA Weekly. This was the beginning of the media process for me. It has been a pleasure communicating with such nice media representatives.
NYFA: Which filmmakers were you excited to bring to the festival?
Akdogan: It was an honor to meet Jacqueline Bisset. She is such an outstanding film actress. When I was a kid, I would watch her films on TV. I never thought that one day this amazing artist would be my guest or that I would walk her to the stage. She is one of the most important figures in world cinema and I am very happy to have met her.
NYFA: What films should our readers look out for?
Akdogan: I highly recommend the film “Alya.” It is Turkey’s official selection for the 90th Academy Awards, Best Foreign Language Film. This is a must-see movie. The film is based on a true story and the director tells that story in a very dramatic way.
Also, I recommend the films; “Troy,” “Plane Tree,” and “Rosso Istanbul.” They are great feature films, which include different cinematic perspectives.
NYFA: Now that all is said and done, how do you feel about the festival?
Akdogan: This festival is really a dream come true for me. I feel lucky and proud when I think about this project. I have experienced wonderful moments in my life as a producer. I have realized that the film world keeps me alive and happy. I cannot live without art.
I feel confident since I made a solid contribution to the Hollywood Turkish Film Festival, at Paramount Pictures Studios, and I became a part of such an outstanding organization!
NYFA: Why should NYFA students attend festivals?
Akdogan: I would love for NYFA students to attend this festival because it was built on a love of cinema. We screened five short films and four feature films. After the screenings, audience members had a chance to talk with the directors about their storytelling process.
NYFA: What did you learn from this experience?
Akdogan: The best thing about the festival is the team’s collaborative spirit. I have learned many wonderful things from them. This organization has inspired me to be better every day. What can be greater than that!?
NYFA: What’s up next for you?
Akdogan: I am producing the 6th Hollywood Turkish Film Festival with this amazing crew. Look for the festival in 2018.
Also, I am writing a feature horror film. If everything goes well, I will direct my first feature soon. In addition, I am going to produce a couple of feature films in the next year.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Oguzhan Akdogan for taking the time to speak with us. We’re looking forward to the 2nd Annual Hollywood Turkish Film Festival coming to you in 2018.