Presentation of the Institution:
The Association of Documentary Filmmakers in Turkey (BSB)
The first National Conference of Documentary Filmmakers in Turkey convened in 1997 and laid the foundation for the present Professional Association recognized by the Ministry of Culture.
The Association has a broad range of membership, including freelance filmmakers, private production companies, documentary makers at Turkish Radio and Television, university professors, and film students throughout Turkey, with membership predominantly in the Istanbul, Ankara, Eskiþehir and Izmir regions.
The official and legal mission of the Association is to defend the copyrights of its members. However, since its inception, the Association has additionally worked towards accomplishing several broadly defined aims:
developing the field of documentary, both in terms of quantity and quality of production
promoting awareness of and demand for documentaries
advocating the improvement of circumstances of production
Towards these ends, some of the primary activities of the Association include:
Advocacy of Sector Development
Inventory and Archiving of finished documentaries is a priority for BSB. BSB currently has a 1000-film documentary archive that can be searched by title. The archives are open for research purposes and can be viewed at the location of the Association.
BSB also conducts theoretical work in the area of Documentary Cinema.
Organization of the annual “ International 1001 Documentary Conference” provides a forum for professionals and academics alike to debate specific issues determined each year. Recent topics have included; “Orientalism, Occidentalism and Documentary Film”, “Globalization and the Identity of the Documentary Filmmaker”, “The Future of Documentary Cinema”, “Oral History and Documentary Cinema”, to name a few.
The “Academic Forum” meets regularly with university professors in order to develop the theory of documentary cinema and to provide new resources for coming generations.
Practical workshops on documentary production are organized for students and recent graduates, as well as programs for continuous learning.
A quarterly magazine entitled “Documentary Agenda” is published, including theoretical articles, news, research reports, translated articles, film analyses, and debates.
The Association has two projects on its agenda in this area, pending development and financing; one is the creation of an Observatory for the sector because currently there are no reliable statistics upon which to base research and investments.
The second project is the creation of a database system for filing, storing, retrieving, researching and selling archive footage.
BSB promotes documentary by creating innovative exhibition channels in addition to television for bringing documentaries to viewers. Ultimately the goal is to create a condusive environment for regular cinema theater exhibition.
For over five years, it has undertaken the organization of the annual “International 1001 Documentary Festival” , the first international festival in Turkey dedicated exclusively to documentary.
BSB also organizes and participates in various other festivals and special organizations throughout Turkey. It organizes showings with discussion sessions at universities, cultural centers and municipal centers throughout Turkey for screenings that are free and open to the public.
Currently, BSB holds regular weekly documentary screenings in cooperation with the Osmanli Bankasi Museum, followed by discussions by invited experts.
BSB is in the process of negotiating screenings of regular weekly documentary “slots” at a non-commercial cinema theater in Ýstanbul and other cities.
One of the aspirations BSB has as a long-term project in this area is to create a television channel, whether terrestrial, cable, sattelite or digital, dedicated exclusively to the broadcast of documentary. Such a channel is hoped will trigger more domestic production by increasing demand for and investment in local documentary production.
Another aspiration is to initiate a series of specialty theaters throughout Turkey dedicated to the exhibition of documentary films.
Advocacy of Sectoral Development
The Association's foremost legal responsibility is to enforce the Protection of Copyrights . Until now, this function has been performed mostly in the form of a creation of awareness. Its first litigation for infringement of copyrights is under preparation and is expected to take place in 2006.
The Association has been active in taking actions towards the establishment of an independent Cinema Institute in Turkey. It has undertaken research of cinema institutes and financing mechanisms in various European countries. The resulting report constitutes the basis for recommendations presented to the Turkish Ministry of Culture for the establishment of an independent National Cinema Institute in Turkey as part of a larger sector transformation.
The Association has actively participated in sector-wide conferences held by the Turkish Ministry of Culture, constituting the basis for new legislation regulating the sector and copyrights. As a result of these reforms, and owing to the activism of the Association, documentary has been allocated an unprecedented proportion of the total cinema fund distributed by the Ministry of Culture. The entire evaluation and distribution process has become decentralized with majority representation from the sector on the decision-making boards instead of just Ministry officials as it had been previously. Another very important reform is that the process is transparent, from deadlines, to applicants, to amounts awarded.
International relations have always been a priority for the Association, and it has actively pursued a policy of attending international documentary events over the years and sharing observations with its members. As a result, a comprehensive project calling for a fundamental transformation of the sector has been outlined:
The first segment of this project takes the form of a “Documentary Project Development and International Coproduction Workshop” targeting professional documentary producers, directors, academicians, university students and recent graduates in the field of cinema/TV/Communication. The workshop is scheduled to take place on 24-28 February, 2006, in Istanbul. The Jan Vrijman Fund is one of the supporters of the workshop, and EDN is a cooperating partner. Among the primary goals of the workshop is to pave the road for Turkish documentary filmmakers who would like to take part in international co-productions, but lack the know-how or the network to do so.
The second phase of the sectoral transformation project is to organize a meeting of Turkish and international broadcasters in Turkey, culminating in a pitching session that would take place in parallel to a market organized for finished documentaries from Turkey and the region. This will serve as a first step toward the creation of a national and international distribution network for documentaries as this critical function is currently lacking in Turkey.
The pitching session would derive as a direct consequence of the Documentary Project Development and International Coproduction Workshop, where in the final two days project-based training will prepare filmmakers to develop and pitch their projects to international broadcasters.
The aim of the broadcaster meeting will be to expose Turkish broadcasters to their counterparts in Europe, to have them share experiences and ideas, and interact. The intended results from such a meeting are to lay the concepts and framework for a broader transformation in the attitudes and methodologies of Turkish broadcasters away from the current unsustainable system towards one that is more in line with the international standards.
The creation of an attractive market for finished documentaries aims to increase the distribution of films from regions that are underrepresented in and have lesser access to the major markets due to prohibitive costs of participation.
The final segment of the comprehensive sector transformation project involves the training of experts who are exposed to and familiar with the international milieu and who are able to offer advisory and consultative services to Turkish documentary filmmakers wishing to actively participate in international coproductions.