News The lively imagination of a prison censor

Published: July 05, 2019| 08:06 PM

The festival's East of the West section also introduced a psychological study from Turkish film director Serhat Karaaslan entitled Passed by Censor. This drama, which the audience experiences through the eyes of prison censor Zakir, deals with obsessive behaviour and the point at which an over-active imagination can lead one so far as to be unable to distinguish fact from fantasy.

Every day Zakir reads dozens of letters and carefully blacks out anything that must not be seen by the inmates who are serving their sentences. A photograph enclosed in one of the envelopes disrupts his day-to-day routine, and his interest in the unknown woman in the photograph develops into an obsession. "I wasn't looking to judge their profession, but instead to try to understand it. People who work in prison often shun society and don't want to tell others where they work," said the director of this study of a man who gradually loses his personal and professional integrity. "My character is himself imprisoned both socially and culturally. For instance, he still lives with his mother. I also think that he secretly tries to help not only the woman, but himself as well," adds Berkay Ates of his character's motive.

The director based the film on personal experience: for a long time, he himself exchanged correspondence with a political prisoner. Besides that, he drew much from his own imagination. "We visited prison a few times, but were forbidden to film anything there. Unfortunately, I was also unable to find a censor willing to collaborate with us, and so I was forced to base a lot of it on my own imagination," Karaaslan said of the film, the shooting of which was delayed due to the attempted military coup in Turkey in 2016.


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