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RESEARCH & LEARNING ‣ Öykü Canlı at The European Independent Film Festival 2023 - Symbolism in Film

Review by Kasia Kurzyniewska, The European Independent Film Festival


The European Independent Film Festival (ECU), features some of the best independent films, ibut more importantly, ECU provides a forum for filmmakers to come together during the holiday weekend to talk about movies, exchange knowledge, and gain experience. A number of instructive workshops led by professionals from various fields of the film industry were on the program for the 18th year of the ECU film festival.


On Saturday morning (15 April), Öykü Canli held an entertaining and interactive workshop Symbolism in Film: Are You Really Watching Movies? sponsored by HorizonVU Sound and Movement. She immediately grabbed the public by the heart with her openness and profound knowledge on the subject.


Öykü Canli, Symbolism in Film: Are You Really Watching Movies?


Öykü focused on identifying symbols in classical art and specifying where, and how, the symbols are used in modern cinema. The famous psychological drama Black Swan served as a main example to present the abstract language of the cinema.


Öykü Canli explained the references to christian paintings that the director of the film used in several scenes. She approached the opening scene of Darren Aronofsky’s film by interpreting the identity of Nina Sayers/White Swan based only on the details such as lightening, perspective and colours. She proved that the symbolism in arts shows something beyond literal meaning: watching Black Swan turns out to be all about reading between the lines and finding the subtle ideas hidden in the shots.


Öykü Canli briefly analysed several more films awarded with Oscar and Palm d’Or and proved the existence of a strong tendency of using symbols in those productions. Some stories are too obvious to talk about them directly, the other ones are too complex and require simplifying – that’s why the most appreciated filmmakers keep making references placing their chefs d’oeuvres in the bigger cultural context. Finally, Öykü Canli payed attention to the omnipresence of symbols in the fields of music and dance and encouraged the public to discover the fantastic language of symbols in films.



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