A new film shows places that even those who are from Fethiye may not even know.
“Fethiye is a wonderful place to photograph. The weather always puts on a show here, one moment is amazing sunshine and cloudless skies, then the clouds roll in and the rain and thunder begins. The frames come to you without much effort here.” So says acclaimed travel photographer, Faruk Akbaş about his hometown.
This Mediterranean town of and its surrounding villages offer a field day for the senses.
The salty aroma of fish and spices fills the nostrils when strolling past the historic everyday market.
The face of a middle-aged man lights up as he sharpens a knife on a rotating grindstone; the remnant of a cigarette dangling precariously from the corner of his mouth.
A nearby hairdresser populated by women buzzes with their chatter; their endless gossip sessions evaporating into the steam from their drying hair, while down the road men stir copious amounts of sugar into their black tea as they cheer on their favourite football teams.
A few streets up the hill, children play on their pushbikes to an unusual backdrop of an ancient Lycian tomb, sitting silently in the middle of a busy road- just a minor inconvenience in the consciousness of road users. A young boy practices Hip-Hop.
Similar scenes of ordinary life telling extraordinary stories about the people and culture of the area can now be seen in a short film following the photo book of the same title, Fethiye Faces and Places.
Commissioned by the Fethiye Chamber of Commerce and Trade, directed by nationally and internationally recognised travel photographer Faruk Akbaş, the film takes the viewer on a visual and aural journey off the beaten track; into people’s homes, their work places and up to the summits towering over this fast developing region.
In less than twenty minutes the film delights in the highs and lows of football fans at a local match, smells (and almost tastes) the sizzling meat and spices of a döner and meets the wrinkly-faced men in the crowded teahouses.
It artistically portrays the strange, hypnotic “beauty” of monotonous factory work, dramatically reveals the intricate footwork of traditionally dressed folk-dancers and finally reaches equilibrium with the stunning birds-eye views of Ölüdeniz.
After spending twelve years living and photographing almost every angle of Fethiye, Akbaş’s name and style has become synonymous with the region.
“It [Fethiye] is truly a unique place. The geography and landscapes of Fethiye are not only unique to Turkey, but indeed the world. It’s a striking place. In one day you can visit the peak of the 2,000 metre mountain [Baba Dağ] and play with the snow, get back down for a swim at Ölüdeniz and then be home on time for dinner.’’
He says this new venture aims to not only promote the town through an authentic lens but to also document and preserve old traditions and cultures for future generations.
“The stories of these ordinary folk have been excluded from films promoting Fethiye for many years. I was adamant that I wouldn’t follow the formulaic tourism films that use the same techniques, frames and themes like using bikini clad women on sun drenched beaches,” Akbaş says dismissively.
“This film shows places that even those who are from Fethiye may not even know. You will see old traditions that have continued in someone’s home or backyard that most of us will have forgotten.”
“For instance, we found a woman who was making clay jugs in the tiny basement of her farmhouse. This very old, in fact ancient practice just does not happen anymore, or happens very rarely now in people’s homes. It was really special for me to capture her making the jugs.”
“These practices and traditions are holding on for their dear life to stay alive in our society. What we really need to do it take ownership of these traditions and do everything in our power to preserve them.”
Behind Akbaş is a team of committed volunteers including husband and wife duo John Laughland and Beatrix Bonchis who provided editing support and content advice.
Laughland who edited and wrote captions for the Fethiye Places and Faces book says he was delighted to work with Akbaş again.
“Faruk has used self-explanatory scenes, so that the film does not need to be narrated so that it is not telling the viewer what to think but to draw their own conclusions rather like the book.”
“He uses natural, organic sounds to blend together scenes and the soundtrack so that you hear the clinking and clanking sound of a carpet machine blend in with the next scene. Time lapse is used very effectively in scenes to express the passing of time,” his enthusiasm for this project is obvious.
“Scenes are symbolically blended to mark the transition, for instance a copper smith with a roaring flame then flows onto the flame used by a glass blower whilst making an ornament. It is very cleverly constructed,” he adds.
Bonchis is equally enthusiastic about the film.
“I enjoyed the scenes at the tomato factory where the workers and the tomatoes are almost doing a ballet with the amazing music composed especially for the film by contemporary Iranian musician, Ali Atarod.”
Also on the team is Semih Aközlü who previously worked as a cameraman for the BBC and discovery channel, “Seeing the final product come together has been wonderful and I am sure that anyone who watches it will be deeply affected.”
Fethiye Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Akif Arıcan is happy with the result and says the film will travel to tourism exhibitions around Turkey and overseas later this year.
“We’ve commissioned promotional material for Fethiye before, but this stands out from the rest. The team has done a great job at capturing the true essence of this region and the people who populate the town and villages.”
“The hard work of the remaining people on the set should not go without being acknowledged, they are Fırat Göçmen for editing and camera work and Claire Ronsin on the camera’” he added.
The film will debut at the Fethiye Arts and Culture Week from April, 26. For information contact: Mustafa Şıkman (mobile) 05322271612 or firstname.lastname@example.org