Zeynep Özbatur Atakan

EWA’s Vice-President and Co-organizer of the Istanbul "online marketing and distribution" training course, Zeynep Özbatur Atakan is a busy lady... so much so, we barely had a chance to catch up with her either in the Istanbul course or at Cannes this year. However, as a successful producer and such a wholeheartedly committed EWA Network supporter, who runsZeynoFilm andYapimLab, and is Head of the Turkish Producer’s Association, she represents an incredible role model. We’re delighted to take this opportunity to share with you our interview with her and unveil some of her secrets to success.

1. First of all, congratulations for the Palme d’Or which your director Nuri Bilge Ceylan was awarded for his film "Winter Sleep" which you produced. This was the third time a film you produced was selected in competition in Cannes- were there any differences in the production of this film as compared to earlier works?

Sincerely, the excitement of the competition and the events which accompany the “big” thing have always been the same, as if each time you start from scratch as you have never been here before.. I have never got used to the expectations which develop in a "crescendo" mode throughout the twelve days at Cannes. You can even speak of, especially during the award ceremony, an alienation from yourself, not being able to think logically and interpret things as they happen around you or on stage. There are so many clues there which imply a “Palme d’Or” for you, but you never get to grasp its authenticity. Then it happens... Of course followed by an indescribable joy, but you immediately feel the responsibility it imposes upon you; especially for everything you will accomplish in the future.

2. Your company Zeyno Film and EWA NETWORK co-organised a training course on Online Marketing and Film Distribution in Istanbul, gathering an international group of students (including from Kazakhstan, Italy, Spain and Serbia) and a Turkish group, both groups being trained by international and Turkish experts. How was this experience for you?

This has rather been a rewarding experience. The “motto” of a cinema person should always be “to learn and to be open to novelty and innovation”. Cinema is the youngest form of art in the world, therefore every person engaged in cinema has got a "mission". Because, all we have done, achieved and all the “new” methods we have found will be a reference guide for the future generations, as the previous generations have created their guidance for us.
Therefore I see these workshops and meetings on the new developments in cinema as a very important task. The meeting in Istanbul was very fruitful.

The majority of our participants from Turkey have already started to apply these new methods that they have learnt at the workshops to their developing projects. Apart from this, EWA has also created in me a sensation of being in a family. This is rather important for the network’s success of course.

Later, I observed the strength of the network more clearly at Cannes Film Festival.

3. How important is it for you to be be part of a global professional network such as EWA?

Personally, it is very important to be a member of a professional network such as EWA. This organisation is only at its development stage but by the speed of its progress I am very confident to say that it will definitely bring short, mid and long-term benefits to those who are a part of the organisation.

4. You have been involved with the EWA NETWORK for some time now and are the Vice-President thereby adding a significant amount of work to your busy schedule as a producer. How do you fit everything in?

Yes there has been a increase in my work schedule, but I always feel as if I work for EWA as a devoted volunteer and I do not feel any weight at all, because I care about EWA and its objectives. I see this work as a significant responsibility which I would never complain about. I also plan many new projects for next Autumn. 5. How important is it to try and improve gender imbalance and how meaningful is this for young women starting in the business?

It is very important to resolve this “gender imbalance” and as soon as possible. All sexist approaches would always directly damage the soul and the structure of the job. Therefore it is more important for the budding professional women in audio-visual work field.

I believe that I would have had many advantages of being a member of such an organisation in the late eighties when I first stepped into this career.

Today’s means of mass communication are rather well developed and it is less time-consuming to make yourself known to the international market and it is also easier to learn the novelties of the profession. Especially, I feel that it is utmost important for Turkish Women Cinema Professionals to be a part of such an organisation.

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