Life is Like a Waiting Room for Death

in 25th Valencia Film Festival

by Oscar Peyrou

The Turkish film ‘Bekleme Odasi’ (‘The Waiting Room’), which won the Fipresci Award at the 2004 Valencia Festival, is a deep reflection on the creative process and about loneliness and alienation. The film was directed, written, photographed and edited by Zeki Demirkubuz, who also starred in it. The atmosphere of the film is dark, as are the ideas of the protagonist. The story is uncomfortable and ambiguous, like real life. The result is a powerful psychological drama and a metaphor of the problems of writers and others artists.

The plot begins when film director Ahmet is trying to make a film version of Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ and believes himself to be arrogant and faithless while others think of him as an idealist, and a man of principles.

However he is alienated, feels no interest towards his project or his girlfriend Serap. He stays home all day long, watches television and lives like a stranger. Serap thinks that Ahmet’s withdrawal is due to the existence of another woman. After a long night of arguing, Ahmet, out of boredom, confesses that there is another woman in his life and Serap leaves him.

Meanwhile, Ahmet’s assistant Elif is busy with pre-production and is camera testing actors to portray Roskolnikof. Ahmet rejects all the actors and decides to give this role to a thief who recently tried to break into his house and he has no idea where to find this young man.

Born in Isparta in 1964, Demirkubuz is a graduate of the Istanbul University Department of Communications. He began his career as an assistant to director Zeki Okten. His first film, Block C (C Blok), and his later works have mainly been based on original screenplays conceived and written by Demirkubuz himself.

Demirkubuz first gained the notice of film critics and international audiences with ‘Innocence’ (‘Masumiyet’) and later with ‘The Third Page’ (‘Ucuncu Sayfa’), which were screened at numerous film festivals in Turkey and Europe, including Venice, Locarno and Rotterdam and the Boston Turkish Film Festival. This was followed by the successful reception of ‘Fate’ (‘Yazgi’) and ‘Confession’ (‘Itiraf’), which were among the films of the 2nd Boston Turkish Film Festival, and both films were screened at Un Certain Regard at Cannes. ‘Fate’ and ‘Confession’, are the first two features in ‘Tales About Darkness’, a trilogy which concludes with ‘The Waiting Room’ (‘Bekleme Odasi’). With ‘Fate’ and ‘Confession’, Zeki Demirkubuz became the first director to have two films screened at the same time in Cannes.

Demirkubuz won a FIPRESCI award and the Best Director prize at the Istanbul Film Festival for ‘Fate’ and ‘Confession’. ‘Fate’ also won Best Director and Best 3rd Film awards, and the Jury Special Award at the 38th Golden Orange Film Festival in Antalya, Turkey. Zeki Demirkubuz won the Best Director of the Year Award with ‘The Waiting Room’ (‘Bekleme Odasi’) at the Istanbul Film Festival on April 24, 2004, and is now recognised by the FIPRESCI jury at Valencia.