The directorial debut of top Turkish actor Onur Saylak has been awarded the top prize at this year’s East End Film Festival. Daha (‘More’) focuses on a quiet and sullen teenager in a coastal town in Turkey whose life is corrupted by his father’s people-smuggling business. Adapted from Hakan Günday’s award-winning novel, the film is a brilliant and harrowing portrayal of Europe’s refugee crisis.
It was chosen by a jury comprising radio and TV host Edith Bowman, film producer Dominic Buchanan, actress Ophelia Lovibond, and screenwriter and critic Kate Muir.
“Such a raw story. Really stayed with me,” says Edith Bowman. “Great performances and incredible first outing for Onur Saylak.” Other jury members echoed this opinion, describing Daha as “terrific”, “gripping” and “emotionally devastating”.
Daha was one of eight shortlisted films screening in competition at the 17th East End Film Festival (EEFF). In line with the festival’s mission to discover, debate and develop new voices in cinema, each year, the top EEFF award is reserved for the most outstanding film from a first- or second-time director.
The EEFF screening of Daha last week was in collaboration with Cambridge-based film charity Balik Arts, which has been running a community cinema project in East London since last autumn. The charity’s director Yeşim Güzelpınar had also put forward Daha for the 16th edition of the Dhaka International Film Festival, where it won the Best Script and Best Director awards earlier this year.