A global story: Living and loving in a big city

A major commercial success in Turkey, «Issiz adam» (Alone) speaks to the hearts of a global audience. Proud of the 2.5 million tickets sold back home, the film’s director Cagan Irmak was in Athens recently for the movie’s Greek premiere. «I come from a small town. Before I arrived in Istanbul, I was thinking of short stories on my life in the countryside. In this film are thoughts and experiences from the last 15 years of living and observing in Istanbul. So many people are alone and they don’t know why. So I was after telling a story about this younger generation,» Irmak told Kathimerini. In the film – which stars Melis Birkan, Cemal Hunal and Yildiz Kultur – a chef in his mid-30s falls for a younger woman. But will love prove stronger than today’s isolation and the need for personal freedom? In «Alone,» do you see things from the perspective of a man or a woman? I tried to bring out the emotions of a man, a woman and a mother. I can only hope that the films speaks to both men and women. They say that directors should never take sides when dealing with their characters, yet I would say that I follow a man who wants to know how a woman feels. Turkey produces numerous artistic feature films that are known to do well at international festivals, while at the same time it also has released a number of commercially successful films. Where do you think the secret of this success lies? There are a lot of stories worth telling in Turkey today. We are in between the East and West – that’s enough for the development of stories. In addition, there is a large audience waiting to see these stories on the big screen and identity with them. We have the kind of audience that is passionate about finding common elements, whatever the direction. We had strong cinematography up until the 1970s and it is very difficult to win over the public. We will succeed, however. Personally, I have no desire to place myself on either side. I narrate stories, and I do so through emotion. How did Turkey’s great tradition for melodrama influence the film? In the last decade, there had been no movies of this kind and that is something that I found curious, because I remember them so well from my childhood. The inspiration for this film, however, came mainly from the street, from the people I observed. What is also important to me is that audiences from other countries are reacting in a positive way, because the film talks about things they know about firsthand, the traumas of love.

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