Tanju Ozdemir is a Turkish filmmaker who writes and directs films that study complexities of human relationships, dreams, memories and contemporary experiences of life.
Tanju received his M.F.A in Film and Media Art from Emerson College (USA) in 2017. He teaches film and video production courses as an assistant professor at Emory University. He actively continues writing, directing and producing his films.
His recent short film “Alexander at the End of the World” is premiered at 42nd Montreal World Film Festival’s World Competition-Short Films section after being shortlisted at Berlinale, Cannes Director’s Fortnight, Locarno and TIFF. It has also been selected to 50th Nashville Film Festival. He was a part of the 2017 cohort of the Reykjavik International Film Festival Talent Lab with the developing cut of the film.
His latest short film script “Missing Damascus” is in development with three co-production companies from France, Germany and Romania after pitching it at Cannes FF 2018.
His first feature film script “Damp Times” has been shortlisted at TIFF (Toronto) Filmmaker Lab 2018.
A man’s life on earth may be described by an illuminating saying that has been uttered a long time ago: life is like resting under the shadow of a tree before a long-awaited journey. The meaning of the rest lies in the man’s awareness of the origin and the destination of his journey, which determines the way he spends his time under the tree. I intend to spend my time by ploughing and harrowing my soul through art.
I believe that cinema is one of the most powerful languages that touches the soul with its ability to elevate an audience from the material world to the spiritual realm through dreams, memories and experiences in present time and by attempting to balance spirituality and realism without falling into either extreme realism leaning towards rigid naturalism or into fantasmatic spirituality devoid of reality.
People are like mirrors. The color of the light that is reflected on the mirror may change but a mirror is a mirror and it is precious. Instead of developing good or bad characters, or pushing them into white and black areas; my aim is to create characters taken from contemporary modern life and drawn in a way that would highlight their complex and detailed personalities.
My reason studying filmmaking by drawing on my background in literature and photography, is the liberating power of the visual language cinema screen offers. I would like to explain my life purpose in a few sentences borrowed from Andrei Tarkovsky:
“Art affirms all that is best in man—hope, faith, love, beauty, prayer … What he dreams of and what he hopes for … When someone who doesn’t know how to swim is thrown into the water, instinct tells his body what movements will save him. The artist, too, is driven by a kind of instinct, and his work furthers man’s search for what is eternal, transcendent, divine”.