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BLACK NIGHTS 2020 Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event

Zeynep Dadak • Director of Electric Sleep

“People are more interested in hybrid genre films than ever before”


- We talked to Zeynep Dadak, the winner of the Eurimages Co-production Development Award for Best Project at Tallinn Black Nights, ready to take a closer look at the future of sleep

Zeynep Dadak • Director of Electric Sleep

In Electric Sleep, recently awarded the Eurimages Co-production Development Award for Best Project in Tallinn Black NightsBaltic Event (see the news) and produced by Titus Kreyenberg, of Germany’s unafilm (in co-production with Turkish outfit Fenafilm), Turkish filmmaker Zeynep Dadak will head out into 2052, when people hardly sleep and never dream. But it's up to a young female computer programmer to discover the secrets of the new “sleep order”, and needless to say, there might be quite a few of them.

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Cineuropa: How are you planning to use the award, and will the pandemic influence the development of the project at all?
Zeynep Dadak:
When the pandemic hit, for a while I couldn't do anything. I didn't even know if we were going to be able to shoot ever again! I wasn't as fast in terms of rewriting the script, but then things started to flow again. Now, I have a fourth draft of the script, and that's the version we will use for financing. We used all the development money for location scouting, and this [Eurimages Co-production Development Award] will be a great boost for us in terms of that. I have already started to work on mood boards, so the award came just at the right time!

It’s always interesting to see genre-type projects getting attention at these kinds of events. Do you think people are getting more open-minded?
I was also quite curious about that, and the co-production markets I have attended led me to believe that there is a need for elevated genre films. I think that now, people are more interested in hybrid genre films than ever before because any good genre includes good drama anyway. In this film, that's certainly what I am trying to achieve.

Especially when it comes to sci-fi, this is a very good time – I started to write the script way before the pandemic, but we are really thinking about the future as a society at the moment, more than we used to do, for sure. I hope there is potential for creating a bridge between these two seemingly separate worlds of genre and arthouse. After all, there have always been good examples of that, from Twin Peaks to Under the Skin [+see also:
film review
interview: Jonathan Glazer
film profile

What you are planning to show is already happening – numerous articles claim that insomnia, or sleep disorders in general, are the sicknesses of our era. There are so many new inventions or apps promising you a good night's sleep. How do you want to incorporate that into your story?
This modern obsession with sleep has been my main motivation. Regardless of all the new technologies, it's still something that belongs to us. It's personal. I was thinking about what would happen if I were to take this idea a bit further, if I were to create this “sleep order”. There is this wish to control sleep, so how would that translate to creating a more efficient society? In order to sleep, we really need to feel secure – that's another idea I wanted to explore.

Apparently, during the pandemic, people slept badly even though they were at home, scared of what they heard on the news, for example. It would be interesting if sleep were to turn into currency in the future.
I really want this film to be atmospheric – to give us an idea of what kind of environment we are in. Not necessarily a dystopian world, but a very controlling society that knows everything about our metabolism. I would like to look at how people react to this new reality.

In which language do you intend to shoot?
Istanbul is a hub for many different people now, so I’ve decided that the film will feature multiple languages, too. The characters will be speaking in broken English in the “resort”, and there will be devices that interpret simultaneously. We would be inside a sleep compound, which is like some New Age spa in a way, and a female protagonist, a tech wizard, starts forming a group there – I am very interested in creating an ensemble film. I want to play with her emotions as she discovers what is going on with this new “sleep order”. It's also about her and her discovery, fear, love and anger.

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