Ferzan Özpetek is an Italian filmmaker with Turkish origins. This unique director and screenwriter was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1959 and in 1976 he moved to Rome, Italy to study film history at La Sapienza University. In Italy he started working with theater companies and in 1982 he began his career in the film industry as an assistant director. This position opened up many doors for him and gave him a chance to work with great Italian filmmakers including Veronesi, Troisi, Tognazzi, Ponzi and Nuti.
His debut as independent film director came in 1997 with “Il Bagno Turco“ (“Hamam”). But his reputation improved only after 2001, thanks to “Le Fate Ignoranti” (“The Ignorant Fairies”), his first big success. This film shows how Antonia’s life (who is the protagonist) dramatically changed after discovering that her deceased husband cheated on her. Shockingly his lover was not a younger and more charming woman, but a fascinating man named Michele.The traditional image of family and love is completely overturned in this film, just as it is in other Özpetek masterpieces.
Social issues such as these have always affected the works of filmmakers worldwide, and Özpetek in particular is not afraid to emphasize them. In fact the talent of this director lies, on one side, in his ability to provoke the audience, stimulate its critical thoughts and call into question its certainties. On the other hand, he is also able to emotionally and deeply engage the spectators though his touching storylines. His movies are consistently characterized by his fine sensibility and his gloomy vision of life, love and relationships. A few great examples of this include his 2005 film “Cuore Sacro” (“Sacred Heart“)the heartbreaking “Saturno Contro” (“Saturn in Opposition“), released in 2007 and “Mine Vaganti” (“Loose Cannons”) in 2010.
Throughout his career, Özpetek directed a considerable number of box-office successes out of which number of them have been awarded around the world. His work has also been screened in several important film festivals, such as Cannes, Venice and Berlin. His most recent film, “Magnifica Presenza” (produced by Fandango, one of the greatest Italian Independent Production Companies) was nominated to almost every single category at the Donatello’s David Awards and at the Golden Globe, where it won several important awards. In this movie Pietro, a gay pastry maker, undergoes a process of inner alienation from reality, followed by a reconstruction of his ego. This personal growth is driven by Pietro’s consuming passion for theater and cinema and the “magnificent presences” of ghosts in his new apartment who are ancient actors from a past era.
For ÉCU, Özpetek represents a great example of an outstanding independent filmmaker. Thanks to his commitment and his excellent abilities in directing and screenwriting, he was able to build a strong and international reputation in the film business. We cannot wait what else he has to offer to the indie world.
Eleonora Maria Mazzoli