Irmak’s Summer Lab Crowdfunding
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I have been selected to participate in the UnionDocs Summer Documentary Lab in Brooklyn, New York, to continue developing my first feature-length documentary film: Kızıltoprak. I have received a 50% scholarship from the UnionDocs, but I am still in need of financial support to make this possible. As a filmmaker from Turkey, it has become economically very, very difficult to sustain life and keep making work, let alone to be able to raise production funds. The continuing currency fall in value of the Turkish Liras made most things become out of reach. That is why I’m currently raising funds to cover the rest of the program fees and my travel expenses. I’d be more than grateful, if you are able to contribute to this campaign with any amount of support. Your support is tax-deductible and any donations via this platform can be written off.
My film, Kızıltoprak follows the story of my friend Hazal who was born and raised as the daughter of a man who lived half of his life without an identity. Hazal’s father, after having abandoned his Jewish family name, lived the rest of his life without an official identity. 15 years after his death, Hazal needs to prove kinship with him in front of court. In her journey of investigating the past she faces the ghostly presence of her family and their memory shaped by Turkey’s unspoken traumas.
Through this personal story the film shows one’s struggle to confront the past, which I consider essential for grieving. Hazal’s story, while showing us how a loss is never singular and carries many other losses within, reminds us that the personal is inseparable from the political. In parallel with my research for Kızıltoprak, I started filming in the summer of 2022. Recently, this project was selected to the development markets of Istanbul Film Festival as well as Doc.Fest Munich’s Forum.
At the moment, I am very much in need of mentorship and space in which I can develop the structure of this film that aims to connect my friend Hazal’s personal story to the recent history of Turkey and Europe. As a filmmaker living in Turkey, being a part of the UnionDocs community, engaging with filmmakers from around the world and engaging with renowned mentors who will help me shape this film will be an incredible opportunity.
Thank you so much for your support.
Irmak Karasu is an artist and filmmaker whose work is concerned with interdependencies and structures of care. She mainly works with film, video and text that form from attention to the sensate reality of affect within landscapes of pressure and subtle, though sometimes overt, violence. Most of her previous works aimed at connecting private stories to public histories/ struggles through an interwoven visual storytelling.
She earned an MFA in Film/Video from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (with a full-merit scholarship) and a dual BA in Film/Television and Psychology from Istanbul Bilgi University. She has been supported by fellowships and residencies including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Core Program and James Raymond post-graduate fellowship. Her works have been screened and awarded at film festivals including the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen; Sarajevo Film Festival; Helsinki Film Festival; Istanbul Film Festival; International Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival; MING Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai; EXPOCHICAGO and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
About the Summer Documentary Labs:
The UnionDocs Summer Documentary Lab are a program for a select group of media artists from the US and abroad. Based in one of NYC’s most exciting neighborhoods, Ridgewood, Queens, the Summer Labs offer a platform for participants to spend the Summer making strides and clarify the creative direction of their projects to attract the potential team members, funders and producers they need to find their way to the finish. An intensive schedule of screenings, open seminar discussions, weekly industry “field trips,” and inspiring artist visits from some of the most dynamic voices across the field of documentary, the SUMMER DOCUMENTARY LABS are tightly structured environments that bring participants into a select group of emerging filmmakers to get challenged and encouraged to think through every aspect of their works-in-progress.
Drawing inspiration from across disciplines, this intensive program should not be mistaken for an industrial, journalistic, or traditional documentary training. Scholar Scott MacDonald highlighted in The New York Times that, “UnionDocs has a healthy sense that the older definitions of what constitutes ‘experimental’ cinema and what constitutes ‘documentary’ are up for grabs.” Much emphasis is placed on workshopping lab participants’ writing about their projects as a way to both clarify the creative direction and attract potential team members, funders and producers. Participants receive focused, honest and helpful feedback on their project proposals from prominent documentary artists and industry experts.
The Early Production Lab in July is for projects about to go into production. Filmmakers have already likely shot some of their material and have access to their subjects and are looking for ways to strengthen their media samples, and pitches and work through the ideas as they approach the production stage and plan for the entire process all the way through to distribution.
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