Noted Turkish filmmaker to show movie, discuss art in Muslim world starting Friday
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Pelin Esmer, an award-winning Turkish filmmaker, will screen her movie “Watchtower” and host a discussion at three Peninsula venues this weekend.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

Award-winning Turkish filmmaker Pelin Esmer will bring her movie “Watchtower” to North Olympic Peninsula venues this week for free public screenings complete with discussions of art in the Muslim world.

Set in the Black Sea region with its fog-wrapped hills and verdant trees, “Watchtower” is the story of a man and woman seeking refuge from the world and their pasts in Turkish countryside. Hiding away from others — one in a remote forest fire watchtower and the other in a roadside bus station — the two soon find themselves caught up with each other.

“Watchtower” premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and has since won best director, actress, supporting actor and actress, and cinematography awards as it has made its way around the festival circuit.

Struggles of conscience

The movie explores the tragedies that befall us, the ensuing struggles of conscience — and the possibilities for redemption that people can offer one another, according to the announcement from Peninsula College, which is hosting Esmer along with the Port Townsend Film Institute and the Centrum foundation.

When making movies, “I am interested in things that don't change . . . the traits that are common in every human being,” said Esmer, who grew up in Istanbul, Turkey.

Her “Watchtower” will be shown first at 7 p.m. Friday in Maier Performance Hall at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles, with a post-screening discussion with Esmer and film professor Bruce Hattendorf.

Then the movie will come to the Rose Theatre, 235 Taylor St., Port Townsend, for a free showing at noon Sunday.

In addition, Esmer will give a talk on the experiences of female artists in Muslim nations at 2 p.m. Saturday, at the Jefferson County Library, 620 Cedar Ave., Port Hadlock.

There's no charge to attend.

Esmer founded her own film company, Sinefilm, in 2005 and now produces her own projects as an independent director and producer together with colleagues Tolga Esmer and Nida Karabol Akdeniz.

Esmer's visit is co-sponsored by Caravanserai, an Arts Midwest program designed to showcase the diversity of Islamic societies through their art and culture.

The name “Caravanserai” was carefully chosen, said David Fraher, president of Arts Midwest. “Historically . . . stopping places for caravans along trade routes were called caravanserais,” he said.

“They were safe places to sit around the fire, come together and exchange stories.”

Esmer's appearances next week are part of a series that included last October's visit by Turkish musical legend Omar Faruk Tekbilek at Peninsula College. The next program will be a May residency featuring the Serkan Cargi band.


For information on Esmer's movie screenings and other Port Townsend Film Institute activities, visit or phone 360-379-1333, and for details about her discussion at the Jefferson County Library, phone 360-385-6544 or visit


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

Last modified: January 21. 2014 7:09PM
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