Don’t Forget Me Özer Kızıltan

Özer had passed away in Corona May too. Film director Özer Kızıltan died at the age of 57 because of cancer.

Takva/ Taqwa (2005) that received many awards, some of them being major, at national and international festivals, including the FIPRESCI award he received at the Berlin Film Festival, Özer directed 5 movies, 2 short films, 3 tv films and 11 tv series as far as I counted from IMDB.

I knew Özer when he was very young. I was very young at that time, too. Late Tunca Yönder was adapting Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar‘s Bir Tren Yolculuğu/A Train Journey to cinema. I did the dramaturgy of the script and placed it in Turkey during the II World War. I was also the assistant director of Tunca Bey and the cast director of the movie and I had a role in it. I did a very long research; from the political, social events of the period to behavioral patterns, people’s dresses… I was very meticulous about the way people were sitting and getting up, their clothes, etc. during shooting.

In a shooting outside the city where four extras were required, Özer, one of these extras, sat in the set hairdresser’s chair first. His beard was cut, his hair and mustache were shaped in accordance with the fashion of that moment. But the other three extras refused. They did not accept their hair and mustaches to be cut appropriate to the period by no means. The agency owner Muhsin (I can’t remember his surname now) who brought the extras and Özer also tried to convince them but they dug in their heels. It was impossible to bring new extras from the city since the set was far from the city. As a result, Özer, one of my assistants Mehmet Yılanlı, agency owner Muhsin and late Günay Güner who was also an actor and stuntman from the set team acted in the related scenes instead of those three extras.

I think shootings took two or three days on that farm. We chatted a lot with Özer during the breaks. Apart from acting, he volunteered to help me with other things. If I remember correctly, he was studying at the law school at that time and was working in an amateur theater.

We must have given each other our phone numbers so that one day Özer called and visited me. We chatted a lot on that occasion again. He loved cinema very much. Then he continued to call me from time to time. Let me admit, I thought that he kept calling me to learn if there could be a role for him because I was also making cast directing now and then at that time.

Again, I invited Özer for a role with a few lines in Ayaşlı ve Kiracıları/Ayaşlı and Tenants, which was adapted by Tunca Yönder as a mini series from Memduh Şevket Esendal‘s novel, for which I made cast directing.

We would meet and drink coffee and talk from time to time. The subject was always cinema. Meanwhile, Özer had started to study cinema at the university. I had shot a few short films before and he was preparing projects and wanted to make short films. I believe that a short film should have a different language, more avant-garde, but as far as I remember, he was thinking of a project close to a feature film.

One day he called me and asked for help, saying that he was going to shoot his first short film. Much time has passed, I don’t remember what he wanted and why I couldn’t help him, now. As I was writing this article, I found this short film on the internet. It is about the biggest star of Yeşilçam (traditional Turkish cinema), Türkan Şoray and its name is “Gözlerin Yeşilçam’ın En Büyük Yangını/Your Eyes Are the Biggest Fire of Yeşilçam (1993)” that received awards.

Our communication was lost over time. When articles about Takva started to appear in media, I learned that he became a director. I was interested in what was written, but although I wanted to watch it, I could not watch Takva when it was in movie theatres. After learning that he passed away, I found it on Youtube and watched it, but it was a difficult and bad watch in our house isolation in Nişantaşı due to the speaker problem of my computer.

I think last September, when my email account was hacked in succession, Özer sent a friend request to me after opening this Facebook account as the first social media account of my life so that my contacts would not be lost. We sent each other messages a few times, we said “let’s meet again” and so forth but we couldn’t. I don’t know if he was sick at the time, he never mentioned it. I wish we could sit and talk, years later. Like we used to do for long hours about cinema in our youth. In the youtube link below, there is Özer’s Takva movie. Unfortunately, I could not find the one with English subtitles. If any of you can find, please send a link to this message as a reply.

A ney transition for the memory of Özer.

* A scene from Özer’s famous film, Takva. The small black-and-white photograph is Özer’s, as he was when I first met him, a youth photo.

Mehmet Atak‘ın 5 Haziran 2020 tarihli Facebook iletisinden – Sinematik Yeşilçam için yayına hazırlayan: Sabahattin Bilgiç – Nisan 2022

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