Venice: Women In Cinema Award dedicated to jailed Cigdem Mater
The Women In Cinema Award (WICA) at the 79th Venice International Film Festival was dedicated to jailed producer and journalist Cigdem Mater who was sentenced to a prison term of 18 years by a Turkish court in late April over the charge of "aiding to overthrow the elected government" in the context of 2013 Gezi protests.
An Italian translation of the letter sent by Mater from prison was read out during the awards ceremony as Mater's letter was reflected on the screen.
79.Venedik Film Festivali kapsamında düzenlenen Women in Cinema Awards (WICA) ödülleri bu yıl Çiğdem Mater’e ithaf edildi Festival başkanı Alberto Barbera’nın da katıldığı törene,Çiğdem Mater’i temsilen yönetmen Sinem Sakaoğlu katıldı.#Venezia79 @biennalecinema #FreeCigdemMater pic.twitter.com/ahDUrZQhF4— Çiğdem Mater'e Özgürlük (@freecigdemmater) September 6, 2022
Mater said in her letter:
"My heart is full of joy since the moment I heard about your solidarity and support. I simply cannot find the words to express my gratitude.
"I'm writing from a woman's prison in Bakirkoy, Istanbul, where about 1,400 women are incarcerated. I'm writing on a desk 'of my own.' I spent the four months of my 18-year prison term, which I received because of a film I did not shoot, here in this prison house where women from all over the world are confined. It is humilitating in terms of the profession to have received a punishment over a film that I was not able to make, but one cannot help but wonder in these circumstances, 'I got 18 years for a film that does not even exist, what if I had actually made the film?'
"I am grateful that you made me feel once again the value of women's solidarity which is precious for me! I send my love to all the women, to my sisters, who continue to resist and speak out despite oppression across the world, from Afghanistan to Ukraine and to Iran."
Women in Cinema Award, sponsored by the Italian Culture Ministry, was awarded this year to Italian fashion designer Anna Fendi, Italian singer Malika Ayane, Ukrainian actress Daria Trehubova, Lebanese-French director and journalist Audrey Diwan and Italian journalist Chiara Ugolini.
Cigdem Mater is the executive producer of "Majority", released in 2010, co-producer of the 2013 Venice competition drama "Sivas", producer of "Toz Bezi" (2015) and the recently released "Yaban."
About the Gezi protests
The Gezi protests of 2013 began with a small group of environmental activists trying to prevent a move by authorities to remove the trees in the Gezi Park near Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The brutal police violence targeting the activists triggered a massive reaction unexpected by the Turkish administration, and the protests turned into the largest mass demonstration in the history of Istanbul.
While millions of people of various political affiliations actively participated in the protests, 11 protesters were killed and over 8,100 were injured due to police violence.