Zeki Demirkubuz’s ‘Hayat’ wins Best Film at Turkiye-Germany Film Festival 2024

The 28th edition of the Turkiye-Germany Film Festival has just concluded, with this year’s big prize going to Zeki Demirkubuz’s film Hayat [Life], which won Best Feature Film. Demirkubuz, who wrote, produced and directed the film, also won the Grand Jury Prize.

His film Hayat is a hard-hitting drama set in contemporary Turkiye that centres on a young woman, Hicran (Miray Daner), who is forced to get engaged by her father. Hicran suddenly decides to break off the engagement and run away to Istanbul. Barely knowing her, Hicran’s former fiancé Riza (Burak Dakak) initially seems unbothered by this development, but then becomes obsessed with finding and confronting her.

Hayat was one of 37 feature, short and documentary films to screen at this year’s Germany-Turkiye Film Festival, which ran from 8 to 17 March 2024. Sixteen of the films in this year’s programme enjoyed their world or international premiere at the festival, with 25 of the 37 competing for one of the festival’s ten awards.

Other award winners at this year’s festival were Selen Kurtaran, who won Best Actress for her moving role in ‘Cam Perde’ [Glass Curtain], and Serkan Kaya, who won Best Actor for his incredible performance in ‘Was von der Liebe bleibt’ [Aşktan Geriye Kalan / What Remains of Love].

Leading German actress İris Berben and Turkish actress Hale Soygazi, both born in 1950, were each presented with this year’s Honorary awards for their “artistic creativity and political struggles”. The pair attended the festival’s gala opening night on March 8, where Turkish-German director Aslı Özarslan’s edgy coming-of-age drama Elbow was screened.

Best Short Film was awarded to Protokol. Directed by Berna Sitera Değirmen, this smart film was deemed a worthy winner by the jury as it questions our relationship with the government, as seen through an official visit to a school. Protokol explores hierarchical roles, including sexism, in a compelling story that uses black humour and is powered by strong acting.

The Selection Committee for the Öngören [Future] Award voted unanimously to present this year’s award to Marcus Vetter and Michele Gentile for their documentary “Krieg und Gerechtigkeit” (War and Justice). This highly topical film assesses whether the International Criminal Court can be effective in bringing those accused of wars of aggression and crimes against humanity to justice when the world’s major powers are still unwilling to recognise its authority as a global court.

‘Gondola’ [Telerifik / Cable Car], directed by Veit Helmer, won the Audience Award after receiving the most votes from this year’s festival audiences.


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Some seven thousand people attended one of 59 events at this year’s festival, which included screenings and Q&As with actors, film critics and other industry figures.

Established in 1995, the Turkiye-Germany Film Festival serves as an important annual international meeting platform for cinema from the two countries, featuring films that leave an indelible mark on cinema goers and informs the social agenda beyond.