There's a lot going on this week in Istanbul in the arts and entertainment category. I'm usually not so good at keeping up with it but this week I went to a few events. First, there was the European Day of Languages that was held at the Greek consulate. There were representatives from several language schools and consulates to promote their language classes. Among them were the Austrian Cultural Forum, the British Council, the Greek Consulate, the Swedish Consulate, the Czech Republic, the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a Romanian Cultural Institute, the Goethe-Institut (for German), the Institut Français, the Cervantes Institute (for Spanish), the Italian Institute of Culture, and a language school called Tomer for Turkish. On each floor of the building there were different activities such as half-hour tester language classes, cultural dance and short films. I did a tester course for Turkish even though it was simple because at the moment I'm looking for a new language school to continue my Turkish classes. I also tried Czech because it brought me back to the days where I lived in Prague. And then I quickly remembered why I didn't pursue that language further....I mean just try pronouncing something like this: Teší mne, že Vás poznávám (And that just means pleased to meet you). I also checked out a couple short films by Spanish directors and watched some Greek dancing but escaped as soon as they asked for volunteers.
On the same day as the language fair, there was a big second hand book/flea-market type thing. Most of the books were Turkish but there were some English ones interspersed in there. It was also fun to look through the boxes of old photos and postcards, movie posters and maps.
After that, I checked out a documentary film festival.
All week at a few different locations around the city, they are showing free documentaries about various social issues from all over the world. The first one I saw was called "The Promise", by a German director, which explored marriage and what it means to different people. The film was in German with Turkish subtitles on top and English on the bottom. The guy in front of me's head did not allow for easy viewing of the English subtitles so I relied on reading the Turkish ones. I got most of it. After most of the films, the audience can ask the director some questions and a discussion session is started. The following day I went to see another film called 800 km Engelli (or 800 km hurdles in English). This one was about two disabled friends who do a roadtrip from Istanbul to a town in the south. On the way they explore how handicap accessible various tourist attractions public places are in Turkey. The day after that (I wanted to take advantage of these free documentaries because they are my favorite genre of film), I watched two films. One was called Beklemek (Waiting) which followed a few people affected by the earthquake in Van, in the east of Turkey, last year. The other was called Ashes of Davutpasa, about family members of victims of a factory explosion who are demanding a fair trial for acts of neglifence from the state. These are all heavy topics but ones you can learn from and achieve empathy for people by putting yourself in their situation and be more grateful for yours.