Columbia Filmmakers Head to 2023 Venice International Film Festival

Angeline Dimambro
August 31, 2023

Three projects featuring the work of Columbia filmmakers have made the official selection for this year's Venice International Film Festival. They are: Tereddüt Çizgis (Hesitation Wound) by Selman Nacar '21 and co-edited by Melik Kuru '21, Yurt (Dormitory) by Nehir Tuna, who studied with the Film Program in 2016, and Pet Shop Days, worked on by Creative Producing alumni Andrew K. Li '16 and Reka Posta '14.

2023 marks the 80th anniversary of the annual festival, which will take place from August 30 to September 9, 2023. Organized by La Biennale di Venezia, the festival's aim “is to raise awareness and promote international cinema in all its forms as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue.” 

Selected to screen as part of the Orizzonti (Horizons) Feature Competition, Hesitation Wound, written and directed by Nacar, follows criminal lawyer Canan as she divides her time between mornings in court and evenings beside her mother’s hospital bed. On the day of the sentencing hearing of a murder suspect whom Canan is defending, she must make a moral choice that will affect the lives of her mother, the judge, and the defendant.

“I have been deeply interested in the concepts of crime-justice-morality since my years as a law student, and with my second film I decided to explore these themes,” Nacar said in his director’s statement for the festival. “Tereddüt Çizgis (Hesitation Wound) is a film that covers less than 24 hours, forms around a hearing, and focuses on Canan’s moral preferences, which influence her personal and professional life. Even though I preferred to shoot the film from Canan’s subjective perspective, my focus is not on the outcome of her choices but on the consequences of her trial.”

View an exclusive trailer for the film here.

Also competing in the Horizons section is Dormitory, written and directed by Tuna. The film is set in 1997, as the tensions between religious and secular Turks are increasing.

A young man leans on a windowsill and looks pensively at a lightbulb.

Fourteen-year-old Ahmet is sent by his recently converted father to an Islamic dormitory, a “Yurt,” to learn Muslim values. Ahmet works hard to be the perfect son, but he has trouble fitting in with rough kids at the Yurt, and feels isolated in his daytime secular school, where he hides his new home from his classmates. His only solace is a new friend Hakan, a street-smart kid who knows how to work the Yurt system. Together they dream of making their own decisions.

“In Yurt, I tried to bring my own personal experience to tell a story that transcends the macro political struggle between religiosity and secularism, conveying the isolation and pressure Ahmet faces as he struggles to meet his family’s expectations and to belong somewhere,” Tuna said in his director’s statement.

A man and woman lie on chairs beside a pool.

Pet Shop Days, directed by Olmo Schnabel, features the work of Li, who served as Unit Production Manager on the film, and Posta, who served as Line Producer. The film follows Alejando, who, in an act of desperation, flees his home in Mexico. On the run from his unforgiving father, Alejandro finds himself in New York City where he meets Jack, a college-age pet store employee with similar parental baggage. Together the two enter a whirlwind romance sending them down the rabbit hole of drugs and depravity in Manhattan’s underworld. When Alejandro’s past threatens to catch up with him, Jack is forced to choose between his family and a life on the run.

The film will screen as part of the festival’s Horizons Extra program, which celebrates new trends without restrictions of genre, audience, and length.

For more information about the festival, click here.