Oktay Mir-Kasim: I Came to a Firm Conviction that Art Exists only because People Need to Open their Souls
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Oktay Mir-Kasim: I Came to a Firm Conviction that Art Exists only because People Need to Open their Souls

7 September 2018

The 14th Kazan International Muslim Film Festival continues its tradition to present the audience the award-winning films of the past years with the film To Die Avenged. The Letters from the Past screened today at Almaz Cinema Port that received the award of the 10th Kazan Muslim Film Festival for best full length feature film directing. The screening concluded with a meeting with the director of the film, Oktay Mir-Kasim, who is currently a member of the jury of the 14th edition of the festival.


The starting point for the plot was the story of the collaboration of a member of Elenendorf community during the deportation of German population from Azerbaijan by Soviets in the beginning of the World War II. The main action of the film takes place in our days, when a grandson of resettled Germans arrives to a village, where his ancestors used to live, to find out his view on this tragic event of the past.

The work is not focused on specific historical facts, as it is aimed to raise more universal issues as freedom of choice, crime and punishment, revenge and forgiveness. This film is a confession as it was told by Oktay Mir-Kasim: ‘Once I fell ill with a desire for revenge ... One person acted low and cruel. My life was poisoned by this feeling. However, when some events occurred in his life that caused his moral and social collapse... I felt a recovery. We met after once: he out his head on my shoulder and cried. I literally used this pose and movements in this film… I gave him a huge deliverance... It is great to be forgiven’, commented Oktay Mir-Kasim.


Continuing the issue of confession reflected in his film, Oktay Mir-Kasim highlighted that in daily life it is not always possible to have an open conversation, while people need it. He shared a childhood memory, when he was ashamed, when he stole a postcard from other boy. He remembers that he was suffering the whole night afterwards: ‘The shame did not allow me to share this even with my mother. I was awake the whole night and in the next morning I put this postcard to the place, where it was before. It was the only one criminal episode in my biography’, said the director.

‘Recently, I have come to a firm belief that art exists only because people need to confess and open their souls. Metaphoric language gives the possibility to implement this, mediating the transmission of information and feelings behind the feeling. Many people have this need, but are not able to satisfy it. However, persistent people in this way become artists. This is especially evident in case of writers, they can implement his via their works and became happier’, concluded Oktay Mir-Kasim.

The spectators thanked the creators for the emotions given by the film from watching. ‘Such a good film... You may start to think on what you really want in your life. I am very grateful to you’, said one of the spectators.


Concluding the meeting, Оktay Mir-Kasim spoke about his long-term attachment to Kazan. He visited the city for the first time in 1970-s, while he was working on a documentary film. His film Magician won the Grand Prix of the first Kazan Muslim Film Festival in 2005.

Оktay Mir-Kasim highlighted that there is a need of closer cooperation between the filmmakers of Turkic countries: ‘I have a very strong sense of Turkic identity and unity. I could say that great filmmakers are emerging in Tatarstan. It is such a passionate and energetic process and I am glad that Tatar cinematograph is beginning to move forward’, he added.


Oktay Mir-Kasim is a member of Azerbaijan Union of Cinematographers, Union of Writers and Union of Artists as well as a professor of the Department of Cinema Arts at the Baku University of Culture and Arts. His films has been screened in France, Italy, Turkey, Mongolia, Poland, Hungary, Israel and Japan.


Photos here