Cevat Kurtuluş
Ege Berensel

04.03.2020 — 29.03.2020

Scru­ti­niz­ing how film oper­ates through what is ren­dered tac­it and explic­it, “Cevat Kur­tu­luş” is a visu­al research project that emanates from the 8mm film records of the­atre and cin­e­ma actor Cevat Kur­tu­luş. The work attempts to shed light on the Yeşilçam Cin­e­ma era’s pre­vi­ous­ly Off-screen space, imag­i­nary-space, labor-space obscured by the camera.

 This filmic com­po­si­tion con­sists of twelve exper­i­men­tal films shown on twelve screens. This body of work sources films that belong to the Kur­tu­luş Fam­i­ly which are now part of  “8mm Fam­i­ly Films Archive of Turkey”, which sud­den­ly appeared in the ear­ly 2000s in flea mar­kets and junk­yards. Lat­er to be recov­ered and col­lect­ed by Ege Berensel for about fif­teen years. This col­lec­tion has amassed to approx­i­mate­ly ten thou­sand films today.

 Cevat Kurtuluş’s 8mm home movies com­prise doc­u­men­ta­tions of his vaca­tions, trips, cel­e­bra­tions, domes­tic life, his love for cats and ani­mals, dai­ly life, İst­anb­ul streets, the extras wait­ing for an act­ing job on Yeşilçam Street, the cel­e­bra­tion of a foot­ball cham­pi­onship, dozens of Yeşilçam’s behind-the-scenes images, rehearsals, reshoots and the scenes that are unsteadi­ly pre­cessed with an 8mm cam­era, a pub­lic speech of Behice Boran on a meet­ing of the Work­ers’ Par­ty of Turkey (TİP), records of his mim­ic­ry exer­cis­es in front of the 8mm cam­era along­side a short film which was com­plete­ly pro­duced and mon­taged by him­self with a cast of fel­low Yeşilçam extras.

 His pas­sion for 8mm films takes us to a par­tic­u­lar moment when he had to use his 8mm cam­era to cam­ou­flage his face. “Believe me, I don’t want to walk on the streets. I feel harassed. They would call me any­thing such as ‘Look at the fool, Cevat the retard!’ They swear, insult, spit and run away… I guess, no one paid the price for fame as much as I do. This is the rea­son that I start­ed to take shel­ter behind this 8mm cam­era. It was cov­er­ing my face as well as direct­ing the gaze. There­fore I became insep­a­ra­ble from my 8mm cam­era,” he rem­i­nisced in an inter­view. His love for the 8mm film for­mat brings for­ward his col­lec­tion of 8mm bur­lesque films from the silent film era that he col­lect­ed to improve his act­ing skills. He also shot and mon­taged this exten­sive 8mm film archive by himself. 

 Find­ing these films in 2008 at a rag­men’s stor­age — they were  dis­card­ed after Cevat Kur­tu­luş’s wife Mer­al Kur­tu­luş, who was also an actress,  passed away in 2008 — led Ege Berensel to dis­cov­er the rest of the films that were giv­en to a friend of Cevat after his pass­ing and which final­ly reached Kurtuluş’s actor and film­mak­er friends. Through this research, Berensel traces the sto­ry and pas­sion of his 8mm filmmaking.