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 approximately ten thousand films today.

Cevat Kurtuluş’s 8mm home movies comprise documentation 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.