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SAN SEBASTIÁN 2021 New Directors

Selman Nacar • Director of Between Two Dawns

“San Sebastián is the only place that could heal me as a filmmaker”

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- Cineuropa caught up with the Turkish director after the world premiere of his debut film, which last year won a couple of work-in-progress prizes at this very festival

Selman Nacar • Director of Between Two Dawns
(© SSIFF/Gari Garaialde)

A serious injury to an employee in a factory leads to a chain of events that sees the son of the factory owner facing serious bureaucratic, moral, legal and philosophical issues, in Between Two Dawns [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Selman Nacar
film profile
]
, the slow-burning debut feature by Turkish director Selman Nacar, playing in the New Directors competition at the San Sebastián Film Festival.

Cineuropa: In 2020, Between Two Dawns won the San Sebastián WIP Europa Award. This year, you're back with the world premiere of the film. What did the prize mean, and what does it mean for the movie to debut at San Sebastián this year, in New Directors?
Selman Nacar: The best thing about the prize last year was that we were able to work with great post-production companies in Spain, along with our French and Romanian post-production companies. It's not always so easy for a first feature to have the luxury of working with these companies over a long period of time, but since there was COVID-19, we had more than one year to work on the post-production. I was able to work on every detail of the sound and colour during this process. I think that since we had these awards, and because we had this luxury, it became a better film.

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Being in San Sebastián this year is amazing. Last year, I couldn't attend, so this year, I came, and I loved the city, the architecture and the festival, as well as meeting the audience. I shot this film two years ago, and after waiting so long, I really appreciated this moment. This is the only place that could heal me as a filmmaker.

What made you write this story?
I start writing with a character. I was writing another script with the same character, and I thought that script was not good enough. I decided to write the backstory of the character. Then, after that was done, I was so excited that I decided to make that story into Between Two Dawns.

One of the film's themes is what exactly constitutes a crime. Where does that interest come from?
I studied Law as an undergraduate, so I was always interested in concepts such as crime, justice and morality. I find those issues so cinematic. Those concepts fit in with my cinema, which is not black and white, enabling me to discover things in the grey areas. I found these were important issues to speak about. I don't think a film can answer questions, but it allows me to ask some questions that let me deal with important issues.

What were these questions that you wanted to ask?
How much can people change in a short space of time? I wanted to see the psychology of my character in a short amount of time, and I was seeing how driven we can be. What are the real relationships we have, and what are the fake ones? I also wanted to see the battle between law, ethics and justice. If the law can't solve every problem in life, can we then make our own judgements?

The film was shot in Turkey, and you had a Romanian DoP and post-production taking place in three European countries. Was it complicated to make?
We also had a German-Turkish production designer, so I can safely say it was a bona fide international film. It was really great for me, as I studied at Columbia University in New York, so I'm used to collaborating with international people. I believe that brings another perspective to a film, and I was able to take advantage of this.

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