APOLLON BY DAY ATHENA BY NIGHT (Turkey)
Emine Yildirim is an award-winning screenwriter and producer. After graduating from METU Business Administration, she pursued a career in film and attended the Bilgi Uni Film Grad School. She has produced films such as Siren’s Call (2018, Tokyo IFF Main Competition), The Impeccable (2013, Busan FF, Antalya FF, Ankara FF, Romania International FF), Monsters’ Dinner (2011, Montpellier FF, Antalya, Ankara FF), Ziazan (2014, Cannes Diversity), Mother Virgin No More (2015, Berlinale FF Generation). She has also written the screenplay of The Impeccable which garnered her a Best Screenplay Award from Ankara FF and the Flying Broom Women’s FF Bilge Olgaaç Achievement Award. Androktones(2018), the short film she directed was showcased at the CICA Museum Experimental Video Festival and the Pera Museum. She teaches screenwriting at Kadir Has University Film Department Graduate Studies. She is an EAVE, 2014 graduate.
Defne (mid-thirties), a coder with an aversion to humans, perceives life in ones and zeros. Living alone, she connects to the world through her 27” screen. After a lethal collision with a tear gas canister, she wakes up to the presence of a young man. Hüseyin (22) is a ghost. He has been existing invisibly since his death in 1995. He gets ecstatic that Defne can see him. Defne, however, is bummed out. Dealing with chirpy radical-leftist Hüseyin who overwhelms her space, she realizes other ghosts exist too. The worst part is, human spirits are just as selfish when dead as they were when alive. Nevertheless, she decides to take advantage of her gift/curse. Raised in an orphanage, Defne decides to find her mother’s ghost. Followed by Hüseyin, obsessed with learning telekinesis, and Nazife (45) the ghost of a brothel manager aching to talk to her living daughter, Defne goes to Side (Antalya) convinced that her dead mother might be there. In town, she meets a motherly hotel owner, a broody archeologist, and ghosts pestering her to aid them with their unresolved issues. Her medium seances fail miserably due to her deadpan manner. Wandering in the ancient Greco-Roman town, Defne’s search for her dead mother is fruitless, until she encounters the ghost of a 4000-year-old mute woman pointing her in the right direction…Defne finds her mother, the only problem is; the woman is alive, working as a tour guide. Hiding her identity she follows her mother Samiya, a high-spirited amicable woman. Enraged at Samiya’s joyfulness, Defne concocts a plot to take her down. As her newly exposed emotions push her to the edge, she comes to grips with her own human nature and eventually finds salvation in her new-found friends; some from the living some from the dead.
“ Apollon By Day Athena By Night “
I started working in the film industry in 2005. Since that time my main focus has been producing and screenwriting. I also worked as a film journalist between 2007 and 2015. The first feature film I wrote, THE IMPECCABLES (2013), a psychological thriller about two middle-class sisters in their 30s dealing with the trauma of rape and living in patriarchal Turkey, premiered at the Busan FF Flash Forward Competition and received national and international critical acclaim. I love writing and screenwriting. I’m the daughter of a diplomat, thus I lived in different parts of the world and and experienced different cultures. PuUng down my thoughts on paper always helped me in trying to beVer understand the world, a world consistently changing around me due to our nomadic lifestyle. When I look back, despite childhood traumas of leaving one place and starting over, I acknowledge that this was an enriching experience and I perceive myself as a third- culture kid. It’s something that I’ve learned to own up to, yet sometimes, I still have this nagging feeling that I don’t belong anywhere.
But maybe this feeling of lack of belonging, is not something that I’m solely or specifically experiencing. I’m 40 years old, and the world seems even crazier and unfathomable, systems are crashing and prove to be inadequate, capitalism is definitely not the answer, connecting with humans is even harder despite technology, and if you’re a woman the system still fails to cater to your needs and desires. But more than anything, as an individual, I feel unwanted and abandoned in the country that I carry the nationality of. My project strives to explore the notion of belonging, and how a woman who grew up as an orphan, reclaims her own sense of belonging by interacting with the dead and the living— a fantasy comedy in the form of a ghost story.
Defne is a woman in self-inflicted inertia who refuses to connect with humans but must interact with them once she can see ghosts, whom, contrary to Defne are aching to still connect with the living. Yet just like Defne, they too exist in inertia, unable to move beyond their current state of limbo. Furthermore, these ghosts are extensions of their living selves. Their faults and
weaknesses remain, for dead or alive, no-one escapes human nature. In the process in which Defne finds herself unwillingly helping /interacting with various ghosts she will unexpectedly learn to deal with her own repressed humanity. Especially when she finds out that her own mother is not dead and willingly abandoned her to an orphanage at a young age.
It is in coping with this voluntary abandonment, that Defne finds herself having to make a decision regarding her approach to life. She can either totally give in and return to her comfortable biVerness, or she can choose to hold on to persons (dead and alive) who care about her. And perhaps form her own family and reclaim her feeling of belonging. The key to reclaiming this belonging will come in the form of solidarity. In my view, as someone who constantly experiences loops of political regression in her own country, the only way to prevent one’s life from being reduced to apathy, stagnation, and isolation is to act in solidarity and put aside biVerness.
The main portion of the story is set in the historical town of Side (located on the coast of the Mediterranean, possessing a history of HiUte and Greco-Roman heritage), this a very strange, cinematic, and ethereal location in Turkey. Walking amidst the 4000 year old ruins, one feels an unanticipated connection to humanity and a rekindled sense of belonging to this world even though our current temporality seems miserable and hopeless, humans have been experiencing such cycles for centuries…and somehow they have moved forward. We are only a speck of dust in history, yet we are all a part of the greater whole, and no-one can take this away from us.
So yes, despite all, this a quirky story about hope and friendship. 200,000 years of human history, and still, true solidarity in all its forms, gives us the most basic feeling of meaning and growth. This is what I believe.
I aim for this movie to be bizarre, absurd, but also empathetic and compassionate. Tone- wise I want to be close to the accessible philosophical questions and black humour put forth in “The Brand New Testament” (2015), while in designing the visual atmosphere I am initially inspired by the ethereal yet grounded atmosphere of “Kumiko The Treasure Hunter”(2014).
The project was initially launched at the 2019 Istanbul FF MoB Development Workshop. And later on was selected for the 2020 Berlinale Script Station 2020 where I had the chance to work
Selected by: Istanbul FF Meetings On The Bridge 2019, BERLİNALE Scriptstation 2020
Supported by: Turkish Ministry of Culture Screenplay Development Grant
Produced by: Dilde Mahalli, Emine Yıldırım
Production company: Giyotin Film