In loving memory of Erol Demiröz

Another theater and movie actor in Turkey passed away: Erol Demiröz (age 81). Demiröz was one of the few in life pioneer actors of AST (Ankara Sanat Tiyatrosu/Ankara Art Theater). AST was one of the two Turkish style leftist line theaters which was very effective during 60’s and 80’s, and which is especially kown by Brecht stagings.

Erol Demiröz was born in the Kurdish territory, in Amed (Diyarbakır). However, he was not Kurdish, but from Aksehir district of Konya, and from the origin of a Turkmen family. While he was a student at the Ankara Commercial Sciences Academy, he first encounter to theater was in 1961, in the acting classes at the Halkevleri/Community Center Headquarters. He appeared on the stage for the first time as a professional actor at Adana Art Theater.

He joined the AST in 1968. In AST, he performed almost 50 plays including “The Days of the Commune (Brecht)”, “Fear and Misery of the Third Reich (Brecht)”, “The Mother (Gorky)”, “The Last Ones (Gorky)”, “The Little Prince (Saint-Exupéry)”, “Waiting for Godot (Beckett)”, “Boulevard Durand (Armand Salacrou)”, “The Shadow of A Gunman (Seán O’Casey)”, “Sacco and Vanzetti (Howard Fast)”, “Simavnali Sheikh Bedreddin/ Sheikh Bedreddin of Simavna”, “Linc/Lynch”, “Nafile Dunya/Vain World”, “Sakincali Piyade/Unfavorable Infantryman”, “Yusuf and Menofis”, “Yer Demir Gök Bakır/Earth Iron Sky Copper” and “Zengin Mutfağı/Kitchen of the Rich” and directed seven plays. His last appearance on the stage was in 2006 as Sancho Panza in Don Quijote adapted by Hans Ostarek from Cervantes as an AST production. Demiröz has also appeared in around 30 movies, starting with “Suru/Herd”, written by Yilmaz Guney and directed by Zeki Ökten in 1978, which received awards in many international festivals.

Ankara Sanat Tiyatrosu, AST

He especially became a popular supporting actor as social realistic approach became popular in Turkish cinema. Among the films he starred in, there were “Bereketli Topraklar Üzerinde/On Fertile Lands (dir. by Erden Kiral)”, “Gül Hasan/Hasan The Rose (dir. by Tuncel Kurtiz)”, “At/Horse (dir. by Ali Ozgentürk)”, “Yılanı Öldürseler/If They Kill the Snake (dir. by Türkan Şoray)”, “Hakkari’de Bir Mevsim/A Season in Hakkari (dir. by Erden Kıral)”, “72. Koğuş/72nd Ward (dir. by Erdoğan Tokatli)”, “Düttürü Dünya/ Skimpy World (dir. by Zeki Ökten)”, “Gömlek/Alevist Tunic (dir. by Bilge Olgaç)”, “Mektup/Letter (dir. by Ali Özgentürk)”, “Avcı/Hunter (dir. by Erden Kıral)”, “Çinliler Geliyor/The Chinese Are Coming (dir. by Zeki Ökten)”, “Son Cellat/The Last Executioner (dir. by Şahin Gök). In recent years, he generally acted impressive characters in Mahsun Kırmızgül’s films such as “Beyaz Melek/White Angel”, “Güneşi Gördum/I Saw the Sun”, “Mucize/Miracle”, “Vezir Parmağı/Vizier Finger”, “Mucize 2: Aşk/Miracle 2: Love”. The only movie he acted the leading role was “Acı/Misery (2009)”, directed by Cemal San. He wrote screenplays for TV dramas, being “Harun”, the first children’s series on TV in Turkey, in the first place. The only project I worked with Erol Demiroz was “Can Şenliği/Life Festival”, which was a 4-episode mini TV drama.

Many AST origin actors like Ali Uyandıran, Mehmet Ulay, Altan Erkekli, Yaşar Akın also acted in Life Festival, script of which had been written by AST origin late Ayber Çolak from Abbas Sayar’s novella. AST origin late Çetin Öner was the producer and lead actor of Life Festival which was directed by also AST origin late Tunca Yönder. By the way, I just learned that the French author film director Bertrand Tavernier (age 80) died on the 25th of last month, as well. I especially like his Coup de Torchon/Clean Slate film. It was the period when Round Midnight was on the agenda, and I had the chance to meet Tavernier in 1987 or 1988 and chat for a while. What comes to my mind now is his complaint about Philippe Noiret’s whims on the sets. He said, “If a young woman actor makes these whims and pampering, she may be cute, but I cannot put him in my lap, caress his hair and calm him with nice words.”

Here comes “Minuit Aux Champs Elysées” from Herbie Hancock’s piano and Bobby Hutcherson’s vibraphone – soundtrack of Bertrand Tavernier’s Round Midnight – to tribute Erol Demiröz’s fresh memory.

This article has been written by Mehmet Atak for Sinematik YeşilçamApril 2021

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