A Turkish Director Tells Stories Through His Camera Lens
Kürşat Kızbaz Talks About His Visit to Taipei
Article ｜Shao Weiyuan
Photos ｜Shi Chuntai, Taipei City Government Department of Information and Tourism
▲ Kızbaz hopes to convey the allure of Taipei to the world though his camera lens. (Photo: Taipei City Government Department of Information and Tourism)
“Taipei is not a cold cement giant,” says renowned Turkish director, Kürşat Kızbaz. He used this sentence to describe the Taipei that he had seen with his own eyes before the start of this interview. This sturdy, stalwart city, situated in the Taipei Basin with rivers flowing through it and mountains all around, narrates its own unique story. What is different is that this time, she is presenting her rich culture and fluid spaces through the medium of a traveler who is picky about images and adept at condensing scenes.
For most people in Taiwan, Kürşat Kızbaz is not a familiar name. But, in Turkey, which is an 11-hour flight from Taiwan, he is a famed director and producer. In 2002, he directed Rumi-Ahlaf, which was shown in over 200 countries on the global Discovery Channel, Discovery Channel Europe and NTVmsnbc. Millions of people were awed and inspired by this documentary film.
Kızbaz has continued to release documentaries, and has received much attention in Turkey and internationally. Over the past seven years, he has filmed 37 films on Turkish history and culture for Turkish Airlines. His skill at using images to tell a story has been demonstrated to the world. This time, Kızbaz was invited by Turkish Airlines to visit Taipei and shoot a documentary of the city. Armed with his sense and sensibility-intertwined cinematographic vocabulary, he focused on Taipei to create something that will be shown on more than 200 international routes flown by Turkish Airlines. The resulting film will reveal the unique stories of our beautiful Taipei to worldwide audiences.
People and Culture Play Leading Roles in Enriching Taipei
▲ Kızbaz traveled all over Taipei, covering its highlights, including traditional temples and famous sites, during his short eight-day stay. (Photo: Taipei City Government Department of Information and Tourism)
Kızbaz, as a follower of Islam, has allowed his beard to grow thick. His eyes sparkle when talking about filming in Taipei. “It is very clean here! The people here are so enthusiastic,” he exclaims, as he raises his hands in a show of sincerity. After leaving the airport, Kızbaz was constantly amazed at the orderly tree-lined streets and the lack of litter. He says, “I came back not long ago from filming in Japan. People always say that Japan is the strictest in terms of demand for cleanliness, but from what I have seen, Taipei’s level surpasses Tokyo’s!”
During his eight-day stay in Taipei, Kızbaz traveled all over the city, visiting traditional temples and famous sites, such as Taipei 101, the National Palace Museum, Dalongdong Baoan Temple (大龍峒保安宮), Manka Longshan Temple (艋舺龍山寺), Xingtian Temple (行天宮), the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Liberty Square (自由廣場), Taipei Public Library Beitou Branch (台北市立圖書館北投分館), Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914文化創意產業園區) and Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. Each of these became a milestone in his cinematic journey.
Although it is not easy for a documentary director to take in all of a city’s highlights in a short time, he traveled along routes where modern and traditional Taipei intersect. Only in Taipei could he encounter the diversity of people and experiences he was searching for. Kızbaz says that, “I especially remember the enthusiastic shopkeepers and other people, as well as that street in Dadaocheng filled with cultural energy and atmosphere. It made me feel that were I to walk randomly down any street in Taipei I would be able to outline a moving story.”
▲ Renowned Turkish director Kürşat Kızbaz. (Photo: Shi Chuntai)
A City With the DNA to Ferment Imagination
In addition to expressing his admiration for Taiwan’s creativity in design, Kızbaz repeatedly praised the food and vitality of Taipei’s traditional and night markets. In his words, Taipei is a never-ending carnival! Every minute and every second of the day, it is possible to find something to eat, and to experience modernity, culture, creativity and relaxation.
As the interview ended, Kızbaz shared his perception of Taipei with us: “It is difficult to compare Taipei with other cities. It possesses the modernity of New York and the order of Tokyo. But, there are also hard-to-describe, but very attractive, Eastern influences. I hope that through my camera lens I am able to convey the allure of this world-class city. I suspect that the Taipei I have seen is a city with the DNA to ferment imagination.”