How did you become involved in film?
I think when I was a child, my father was in the army in Turkey and had certain privileges which included being able to see everything at their very own cinema, almost every night I ' d go and watch all sorts of films.
Have you ever studied film?
Yes and no , I have two great loves in my life, the first is psychology and the second is film so I had to decide which Id pursue, because I didnt have the opportunity to study film I chose psychology at university in Istanbul. I ended up quitting that for various reasons and I started focusing on cinema again, I wanted to be a member of the audience for a while to simply observe. I was working as a general manager of a counselling centre but, in the middle of the day when I began to tire of people, Id just leave the place, go to the cinema for a while before come back! Id also insist on going to the Istanbul film festival every year, whatever I was doing Id drop everything for 15 days and nights. Because of that I got kicked out or left many jobs. When I came over here about 7 years ago I was in a bit of a mess so I set about watching films and building an archive, Id watch 3 or 4 a day and it was a form of recovery for me. Id watch absolutely anything, from TV or at the NFT because Im a member but very rarely at western cinemas and Ive ended up with about 500 on video. Then I did an access course at TowerHamlets College; the access was appalling but I managed to complete it. After that I was accepted to the Film Studies course at the University of North London. It has the worst management and access I have ever seen in this country. It didn't work me. So, I have just left it in the air. I might go back one day.
Is your interest in independent film reflected in the films chosen for the festival?
Thats another thing entirely. The disability film culture is very neglected so we've got our hands on everything we could. Last years festival was a last minute decision, 3 months before it took place we decided to arrange it, there was neither a plan nor a budget so we worked with what we had. This year decisions made by the team at The London Disability Arts Forum.
Who are you funded by?
Mainly by the London Arts Board, The Arts Council of England, Bridge House Estate Trust and the BFI . VET supported us technically. VET has three Bursaries and one them allocated for Disabled film makers. Funding is not easy to come by, first of all we asked for a very large budget because we wanted make it the best film festival we could , up to this point funders want the disabled to just entertain themselves, they would only fund us to raise their profile. When you want to be professional everybody holds back. Last year went quite well, the audiences were quite large and mainly disabled but it was just before the Monday bank holiday, the hottest day for 40 years. They showed that there was potential and gave us the inspiration to go forward. This year I had no idea how to go about it, there was no network for the disabled film culture so I spent ages on the internet and, after a time I started to get a tremendous response which was very surprising because I didnt know these people existed. From that response I started to come up with ideas like an egroup that would help disabled filmmakers to network, work placements and finding ways to train ourselves in how to train other disabled filmmakers. That's one of our biggest problems, we have very few qualified people in the industry, there is plenty of passion and energy but whatever you do without training is amateurish, people need training and experience.