A new, sad story from Black Sea region / Vercihan Ziflioğlu

Hürriyet Daily News, 2011.05.15

One of Turkey’s master writers Sabahattin Ali’s novel ‘Ayran’ has been adapted for the silver screen with the title ‘Kar Beyaz’ (White as Snow). The leading actor in the film is a small child living in the Artvin province of the Black Sea region. ‘This film was my childhood dream,’ says director of the award-winning film Selim Gunes.

Director Selim Gunes has adapted the novel of the Turkish writer Sabahattin Ali “Ayran” (a drink made with yogurt and water) for the silver screen. The film “Kar Beyaz” (White as Snow), telling the story of a young child supporting his family, hit the theaters Friday.

The film was made in the Black Sea city of Artvin, where Gunes was born and grew up. The leading actor in the film is a small child from Artvin, Hakan Korkmaz. “Making this film was my childhood dream,” said Gunes. “I read the novel, from which the screen play is adapted, when I was a child and thought that it was a story penetrating into one’s heart. The film ‘Kar Beyaz’ is a heart-wrenching tale,” he said.

The film won the “Best Film Music Award” at the 47th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival last year and the Jury Special Prize at the 15th Sophia International Film Festival. Also winning lots of national awards, the film met audiences at various festivals in Turkey and Europe.

Gunes said he planned each scene of the film in his mind throughout the years. “When reading the book, I imagined a child walking alone on a remote and snowy road with a billycan on his hand. The nature was snowy and hard. Little Hasan was moving like a black spot, he was symbolizing loneliness.”

He said before filming, he had written down the places in the film. “When the script was done, the pieces of the puzzle were complete, too,” he said, and explained the reason for the name “White as Snow. “White overlaps with the feeling of pureness and cleanness. I first gave thought of the title “White as Snow – Black as Road.” The blackness of the road would refer to difficulties that the child experienced but I later decided just on “White as Snow.”

‘I took risk in leading role’

Speaking about the reason why the film was made in the eastern Black Sea city of Artvin, where he was born, Gunes said, “Its nature is visually perfect” for the region. He said films made in various regions of the country also contributed to the development of Turkey’s cinema sector.

The child character Hasan, played by Hakan Korkmaz, is the son of his neighbor in Artvin. “When I first saw Hakan, I said, ‘This is Hasan,’ and thought he was the best for the film,” Gunes said. “Hakan was inexperienced but this did not create difficulty for anyone during filming. He is a talented child. When the film was done, I realized what a big risk I took. First of all, giving the leading role in a film to a child is a risk itself. If Hakan was not a talented child, I would have had to give him up and start from the very beginning.”

Gunes defined Hasan in three words, saying “responsible, strong and courageous.” He said, “We should remember Hasan is making his living on one hand, and playing in the snow and talking to his imaginary heroes on the other. He is a hardworking child to support his family by selling ayran after the imprisonment of his father. The only thing helping him survive is advice from his father.”

Another book being adapted for film is coming soon from Turkish cinema’s young and award-winning director Zeki Demirkubuz. He is making Fyodor Dostoyevski’s novel “Notes from Underground” into a feature film with a few changes and a different interpretation in the Turkish capital Ankara.

*** http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=a-new-sad-story-comes-from-black-sea-region-2011-05-13