Press Release

Many large Turkish companies did not want to be associated with Bingöl Elmas’ documentary on Iran. Luckily for audiences, the Ministry of Culture stepped in to help out

Documentary director Bingöl Elmas last year made a radical decision and went to Iran for vacation. It was a radical decision, because she has always heard that Iran was a dangerous country for a woman. She bought a train ticket and hit the road from Haydarpaşa Railway Station.

After a four-day troublesome trip, Bingöl arrived in Iran’s capital Tehran and tried to get to know Iranian people, about whom she heard many things during the trip. Stating that the 15-day holiday was a positive breaking point for her, Elmas said, "My aim was to remove prejudices. Then I decided to shoot a documentary film about the country. I returned to Turkey, and went to Iran again with my team by Trans-Asia train."

The documentary was given financial support by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Elmas said she applied to some big Turkish companies for sponsorship but the result was negative. "Even if they wanted to become a sponsor, they avoided it because they were afraid of appearing sympathetic to the East."

The making of the documentary was last year and presented to audiences at the 1001 Documentary Film Festival, which kicked off Thursday in Istanbul

Her first documentary award
Elmas won the Best Documentary Award for her first documentary film titled "Ağustos Karıcası" (The Ant of August) at the 2005 Antalya International Golden Orange Film Festival, one of the most prestigious organizations in Turkey.

This award encouraged Elmas and later on she finished her documentary "Trans-Asia."

"Iran is not as terrifying a country as it is said to be," Elmas said, adding that she did not favor an Islamic regime as a woman. Elmas said she had to wear a headscarf in Iran  during the making of the documentary, but she thought, "This is the reality of Iran ."

Having a critical attitude toward Turkey and Turkish people, Elmas said, "Turkey is like a small state of the West. We have lost our own dynamics. If the West means civilization, the East means culture."

Harsh discussions on the train
Before starting to shoot the documentary, Elmas made Iranian friends and became a part of their social life. And the shooting started on the train while traveling to Iran. "There were people of every language and every religion on the train," she said, adding that there were harsh discussions among passengers every night.
Hurriyet Daily News


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