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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Turkey / Germany / Serbia

Selcen Ergun starts shooting her feature debut, Snow and the Bear

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- The Turkish writer-director has kicked off the shoot for her first feature, a dark fairy tale set in a snowy town in the north-eastern corner of Turkey

Selcen Ergun starts shooting her feature debut, Snow and the Bear
On the set of Snow and the Bear (© Dejan Kragulj)

Istanbul-based writer-director and photographer Selcen Ergun initially got involved in cinema as an assistant director, working on acclaimed Turkish helmer Reha Erdem’s My Only Sunshine and Kosmos [+see also:
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, while her shorts A Sunny Day and Confrontation have been screened and awarded at various national and international festivals, and she is also currently directing adverts. Ergun has just started shooting her debut feature-length film, Snow and the Bear, which took part in the First Films First training programme and in the Berlinale Talents Script Station, and also won the Best Project Award at Meetings on the Bridge at the 2017 Istanbul International Film Festival and the TRT Co-production Award at the 2019 Bosphorus Film Lab.

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The screenplay, written by the director and Yeşim Aslan, is set in a small, snowy town in the north-eastern corner of Turkey, where the winters have always been harsh. The roads are blocked due to the snow, and rumour has it that bears have risen early and have been killing some animals. The story follows Aslı (Merve Dizdar), a young nurse who has recently been assigned there. When a man from the town, Hasan (Erkan Bektaş), goes missing after arguing with Aslı, different theories start flying around about it, as his disappearance gives rise to all sorts of rumours. As some villagers argue as to whether he has left to join his mistress or has headed to another town, there are also those who think that bears might have attacked him. When Samet (Saygın Soysal), a young man who has had some spats with Hasan in the past, is interrogated as a suspect, Aslı feels the need to be involved in this event, although Samet might be the only one who knows the whole truth.

Snow and the Bear has started filming in the mountainous district of Şavşat, in the north-eastern province of Artvin, which is perched on the Black Sea and is next to the border with Georgia. As the wintry weather and snow envelop everything, the region’s natural landscape also reflects the secluded, cold, dark, fairy tale-like atmosphere of the story, which is in stark contrast with the heroine’s character. As for the visual approach to the story, French-Belgian cinematographer Florent Herry has been on board from a very early stage. He is better known as Reha Erdem’s regular director of photography, having worked with the helmer for over 20 years, and he first collaborated with Ergun on Kosmos. Since then, they have worked together on many of the director’s previous works. Also, the location scouting was carried out by Ferhat Başaran, who has worked on many international co-productions in Turkey.

The producer of the film, Nefes Polat, who previously served as assistant producer of Winter Sleep [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
film profile
]
by Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Something Useful [+see also:
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interview: Pelin Esmer
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]
by Pelin Esmer, recently co-produced Sibel [+see also:
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interview: Çağla Zencirci and Guillaum…
film profile
]
, directed by Çağla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovannetti, which premiered and was awarded at the 2018 Locarno Film Festival. Also, she has recently finished shooting her company’s – Nefes’ Films – first feature, Penny Bank by first-time director Ferit Karol. According to Polat, the expected delivery of the film will be by the end of 2020.

Snow and the Bear is a Turkish-German-Serbian co-production by Nefes Polat (Nefes’ Films) and Selcen Ergun (Albino Zebra Film), with Michael Eckelt (Riva Film) and Milos Ivanović (Set Sail). The film is being backed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey (via development and production support), the Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein Film Fund, Film Center Serbia, the German Turkish Co-Production Development Grant and Eurimages.

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