Yeralti (Inside) (2012) Film.Director : Zeki Demirkubuz

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A man’s life, thoughts, feelings and his very own darkness… Adapted from Dostoevsky’s novel “Notes from Undergroud”, Demirkubuz follows Muharrem as he gets himself invited to a party where he is not welcome, just to find himself disgusted.(Imdb)

Muharrem pressgangs his old friends into inviting him to dinner, no matter that he hates and is hated by them.

The dinner starts off with a few harmless gibes and trivial shows of bravado; but as time wears on and heads become fuddled, the conversation progresses steadily into the inglorious past. Old grievances come tumbling out into an ugly showdown.

As the night becomes charged with tears, anger and regret, the outrage spills onto the dark streets, into sleazy hotel rooms.

Although they’re in league and he’s on his own, Muharrem has made up his mind. Either the filth is cleaned up that night or he dies. Otherwise he’ll never be rid of this sense of shame.(Mubi)

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The Waiting Room (Bekleme Odası) (2003) Film. Director : Zeki Demirkubuz

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The concluding film in the filmmaker’s “Tales About Darkness” trilogy. Film director Ahmet toys with the notion of casting a burglar he caught breaking into his place in his adaptation of Crime and Punishment. A story that asks whether a man ruled by egotism and arrogance can deliberately choose positive values such as spirituality and solitude.(Mubi)

Zeki Demirkubuz plays the lead character Ahmet who wants to make a film about Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’. He falls into a deep depression, loses interest in the film and life, pushes those who love him away and cannot complete the film.(Imdb)

 by Firat Yucel, Mental Minefields: The Dark Tales of Zeki Demirkubuz, 2007

In Bekleme Odası (The Waiting Room, 2003), Zeki Demirkubuz tries to disconnect himself from his aesthetic concerns and stylistic attachments in order to deliver a film that unmasks the mythical approach to auteurism and intellectual intensity. In other words, the film demystifies the idea of the intellectual film director in a rather vulgar manner. Through its consciously inelegant minimalism and distractive spectacle editing, The Waiting Room unpolishes the mystified reality of the auteur director, not only by revealing him in the most casual and ordinary situations, but also by cutting loose from all the predetermined ways of aestheticizing everyday banality.

The film is about a director, Ahmet, who is played by Zeki Demirkubuz, and the problems he faces in his personal life during the project development process of his next film, an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Captured by a strong and baseless feeling of apathy, Ahmet disconnects himself from everything in his life that makes (or may make) sense: he lies to his wife by saying that he cheats, he cancels his new film project, he forces his assistant—who is in love with him—to hate him by denying any kind of emotional bond between them. The process he goes through can be defined as a strong and insuppressible urge for self-destruction and avoidance of all rational connections with life.

The Waiting Room is foremost about the arbitrary nature of life but it is also about a man’s inability to maintain a Dostoyevskian intensity in the present. Throughout the movie, Dostoyevsky’s portrait hanging on the wall reminds us of the enormous gap between Ahmet’s great expectations for capturing the existential intensity of Crime and Punishment and his present life which does not sustain such profoundness. His everyday life, degraded by the sublime object of literature, loses all its meaning to him. Drifting through a vacuum of causeless flow, he reluctantly clings to the arbitrariness around him by casting a thief (whom he catches in the backyard of his apartment) for the role of Raskolnikov and making love with the women who visit him. The nature of his relationship with women points to one of the most important themes of The Waiting Room: the search for absolute honesty and truthfulness. Ahmet’s rude attitude towards his wife and his assistant is not an indication of his sexual competency, but an extreme desire to maintain honesty in relationships; it is a desire so extreme that it sometimes pushes him to cross the line between truth and deceit. Hence, we should underline the fact that this is not a film about a man’s indifference toward life; it is about a man who thinks of indifference as a pathway to genuineness.

Of course, Demirkubuz’s denial of aesthetics and beauty in the cinematic sense, corresponds to Ahmet’s search for purity and openness. This is probably one of the reasons why he chose to play the character himself. However, The Waiting Room should not be mistaken for an autobiographical film, not in the classic sense. The director we see in this film is not Zeki Demirkubuz, but a reflection of his effort to face and reveal the evil in himself. In the interview concluding this publication, Demirkubuz says that speaking evil and manifesting the innermost evil thoughts—even if you do not necessarily have them—is a precondition for anyone who wants to form an honest, reliable and genuine communication with others. Consequently, The Waiting Room is his effort to develop a genuine communication with the viewer. It is his confession of his inability to capture the existential depth of Crime and Punishment. Yet, this does not mean that he will not try to adapt the novel, as the last scene of the film shows: a director who starts to write his script again, this time not as an adaptation of the novel, but as a script about not being able to adapt it. In effect, what we have seen is precisely this film, titled The Waiting Room.

Confession (İtiraf) (2001) Film. Director : Zeki Demirkubuz

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Screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, Confession brings a chilling, Dostoevskian feel to its searing look at the disintegration of a marriage. Harun (Taner Birsel) and Nilgün (Başak Köklükaya) have been married for seven years. Their relationship seems uneventful enough, with little outward strife. Then Harun suspects his wife of having an affair, and he begins to draw apart from her. Yet he fears that confronting her might actually bring the affair into the open—or end the marriage. With excellent performances from his two leads, director Zeki Demirkubuz makes Confession into a deeply moving study of people living with unhappiness and the toll it takes on their daily lives. There are neither heroes nor villains here, just victims. — The Film Society of Lincoln Center (Mubi)

Reviewed by: George Williamson

Harun (Taner Birsel) is a businessman, who spends most of his time in the city, far away from his wife (Basak Köklükaya), whom he believes to be having an affair.

One night, after returning home unannounced, he finds the bedroom empty. When she arrives, finally, there are hushed words on the telephone and she slips into bed without waking him. Deciding that he wants to know the truth, he confronts her, demanding an apology for the crime he is sure she has committed. He does get an answer, but it’s not what he expected.

Confession is a visually impressive film, using high contrast digital photography to make the daytime burn and the nights darker than reality. The opening scene is particularly beautiful; a slow pan over a lurid azure sea, past violent yellow cabs on writhing tarmac, into Harun’s office, where you feel the stifling heat and smell the oppressive air.

The pacing is deliberate and languorous. Vast expanses of time are spent on intermediate scenes that, in other films, would be used to interconnect plot development. It’s similar to Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood For Love, where the story is spun out in these interludes.

The Turkish director, Zeki Demirkubuz, stretches them even further, focussing on a character’s features for extended periods, or during a driving scene, watching the twitching shadows on a dashboard.

The overall impression is that Confession is too slow, and fairly tedious, which is a shame, because it is well made and beautifully photographed. Also, the story would be more interesting if it was pared down and leaner.

Reviewed on: 10 Aug 2002

The Third Page (Ucuncu Sayfa) (1999) Film. Director : Zeki Demirkubuz

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Isa is beaten up after being accused of stealing $50. When his landlord demands the back rent, Isa gets angry and shoots him. The police round up the tenants, but are not suspicious of him. Back in his room, Isa collapses and is helped by his pretty neighbor Meryem, who also pays the $50 when the thugs return. Isa promises to do anything for her, and tells her about his job as a TV extra. Meryem’s husband has left her with her two young children, while he is away working. When her husband returns and beats Meryem up, she asks Isa to kill him.(Imdb)

Innocence (Masumiyet) (1997) Film. Director : Zeki Demirkubuz

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Masumiyet (Innocence, 1997) is a cut in Turkish film: it slices from past to present in Turkish cinema; it severs the audience from its expectations; it carves through the lives and loves of its characters, and bleeds. The film is a carefully rendered tale of unrequited love and a haunting past that reveals the mute nature of the ambiguous present. The past dwells in the present, and the present seeks its past not only through the characters’ lives but also through the director’s appropriation of Turkish classical melodrama and self-reflexive filmmaking. Innocence is Zeki Demirkubuz’s second feature, and the genesis of his most recent film, Kader (Destiny, 2006), a prequel that transforms the viewing of its original almost a decade later. Innocence is a turning point not only for its exceptional actors and the skillful storytelling that evokes mid-1990s melodrama, but also in the way that it attempts to rethink and misplace the tradition of melodrama and spectatorship in and outside the film’s world. Instead of settling its characters and audience in a predestined life that epitomizes the structure of classical melodrama, Innocence leaves them incomplete and unsettled.

The film starts with Yusuf (Guven Kirac) in prison, on the day of his release. The warden reads his letter that says Yusuf has “no place to go.” Reading of the letter and discussing the rationality of this request are interrupted by a door that opens and closes repeatedly. This motif of doors that will not close is a device the filmmaker uses in succeeding films with varying functions. Here, it reveals framed and multiple realities; it serves as the crack in the boundary between exteriors and interiors—between the unsettling rules of the external world and the characters that have long since lost their ease. As Yusuf steps into his new life in a hotel where he will meet Bekir (Haluk Bilginer) and Ugur (Derya Alabora), we are introduced to a world of other people like him who have “no place to go,” who sit in the lobbies of cheap hotels and watch old Turkish melodramas on TV. The lobbies are like courtyards of non-places, of no belonging. The old films in the background set a fictional past for these people who live in a timeless and circular present. For twenty years, Bekir follows Ugur wherever she goes, while Ugur follows her often-jailed lover wherever he goes, in a never ending circle that is destined to continue as Yusuf slowly finds his place in this order.

The significance of Innocence resides in its believability. Having captured a limited national and international audience, yet highly acclaimed by the critics, the film resists time and becomes a locus that is enriched with Destiny. We keep revisiting this locus: the locus of love, belonging, suffering, and an impossible desire that tears apart the preconceived, predestined pattern of life. Through the cracks of reality, Innocence beckons a quest for truth where truth can only be found in love.

(http://zekidemirkubuz.com/en/press/films/masumiyet/mental-minefields.htm)

Block C (C Blok) (1994) Film. Director : Zeki Demirkubuz

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C Blok (Block-C, 1994) is Zeki Demirkubuz’s first film. Before he plunged into shooting Block-C, he had never even shot a short. Although Demirkubuz has expressed his dissatisfaction with the outcome, saying the film carried too many characteristics of classical mainstream Turkish cinema, it almost seems like he had to make this film before he could go on to refine his style and work out his main concerns. Indeed, it is surprising that an intense and passionate film like Masumiyet (Innocence, 1997) was to follow the cold and detached Block-C. However, many of Demirkubuz’s signature motifs—the infamous TV set, his slow-paced editing, the frames within frames that surround his characters with darkness in long lingering shots—are already identifiable in this first film. At the same time, Block-C features two striking anomalies of his filmography: the main character is middle-class and a woman. With the exception of Itiraf (Confession, 2001), Demirkubuz has not returned to consider primarily middle-class concerns or put the focus solely on a female character.

Block-C’s Tülay (Serap Aksoy) is a housewife married to a businessman (Selçuk Yöntem) who takes too many business trips and usually for too long. She is left behind in their bleak apartment, which is in Block-C of a middle-class high-rise apartment complex in Ataköy, Istanbul. These blocks were built during the 1980s, a period of economic liberalization and political reconstitution in Turkey that brought drastic change to the social structure. Tülay and her husband represent the new middle class that also emerged during those years. In Demirkubuz’s vision, this period and the consequences of such rapid change are reified in the inhospitable, isolated apartment complexes. Demirkubuz has likened the Ataköy buildings to housing projects in Franco’s Spain or Stalin’s Russia, and uses them as a metaphor for imprisonment, a recurring theme in his subsequent films. Even the title of the film, Block-C, accentuated by the enclosing, circular form of the letter C, is reminiscent of a prison structure. Demirkubuz was an inmate in Block-C of the penitentiary during his imprisonment after the 1980 coup; and Tülay is an inmate in Block-C of this high-rise complex in Ataköy. In almost every shot the blocks either block her vision or surround her like prison walls. They insistently invade the frame, ominously hovering in the background, giving Tülay the impression of “monsters rising in the dark.”

The opening shot of windshield wipers monotonously slapping back and forth evokes a sense of Tülay’s life: flat, boring, and repetitive. She is trapped by the conflicting expectations of her roles of traditional wife and modern woman. Her only means of escape is her new car, which she takes on little pleasure trips. Then, one day Tülay comes back home early from one of her trips and finds her maid Aslı (Zuhal Gencer) and the janitor’s son Halet (Fikret Kuşkan) in bed having sex. Confused but also peculiarly intrigued, Tülay begins to search for what she believes has been missing in her life. Although, at first she seems to be in search of sexual fulfillment, her actions are in fact attempts to break free from the confines of her destiny—yet another central theme in Demirkubuz’s films, most recently explored in the tellingly titled Destiny (Kader, 2006). However, anticipating the destiny of many Demirkubuz characters, Tülay’s journey turns out to be a severely unsettling one .(turkishfilmchannel.com)

Envy (2009) (Kıskanmak) Film. Director : Zeki Demirkubuz

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Seniha lives with her brother Halit and his wife Mükerrem. When Nüzhet, the handsome son of the richest family in town, sets his eyes on the married Mükerrem, she is at first disgusted with Nüzhet’s overt sexual innuendo. However, it isn’t long before Mükerrem yields to her lust and thus they embark on an affair. When Seniha finally reveals her sister-in-law’s un-virtuousness to her brother, Seniha has no idea what the consequences will be and how cruelly her destiny will change. —TCMDB