Dear Movie Lovers,
I hope this finds you well, willingly subscribed, and not spammed. Ordinarily I’d be in therapy on a Tuesday afternoon, but this week I’m on a plane, listening to the Tindersticks soundtrack to Stars at Noon en route to LA for the October 21st release of my first feature, Aftersun, and writing to you. It’s a surreal situation on many counts, so please forgive what follows.
Memory is a slippery thing; details are hazy, fickle. The more you strain, the less you see. A memory of a memory endlessly corrupting itself. I’ve caught myself recently claiming that feeling is more robust, but it’s tricky. Because in recalling a point in time and how that moment made you feel, it is framed by a new feeling—the feeling of what that moment means to you now. In Turkish, a language rich in vocabulary not easily rendered into English, hasret means some combination of longing, love, and loss. It seems particularly appropriate in this context and to this film.
Aftersun is about a young 30-year-old father and his 11-year-old daughter on holiday at a resort in Turkey in the late 1990s. It is told—subtly—through the point of view of the daughter, Sophie, as an adult 20 or so years later. A memory of intimacy from a point of distance. Hasret. Truthfully, I don’t want to say too much more about it. It’s best experienced without context, without having seen our gorgeous trailer, and with patience and an open mind. It accumulates to a feeling which I found myself best able to express through the language of cinema (“ch-inema”) and not in words or by any other means. And there is room for you in this film too. I hope you can take it, fill it, in order to feel it.
What I will say is that Aftersun is not mine alone. It was made by the combined efforts and talents of many people among whom are some of my closest creative collaborators and friends. They elevated the words from the page and the pride and gratitude I feel for their work is immense. Collaboration is what makes filmmaking so special and through collaborating, the process of making this film gave me the clearest sense of purpose and joy. To make it was a privilege I never took for granted, much like the opportunity to share it with you now.
Before I sign off, the elephant on the page is the degree to which Aftersun is a personal film. Most films are, of course, but this film more than even those most. The essence of what I have to say about that is held within the 145,440 frames on screen. This film is unmistakably fiction, but within it is a truth that is mine; a love that is mine. Photos, videos—records of different types—are enclosed in the film and so it felt appropriate to enclose one here. A photograph of my dad and of me—the starting point for this project—each a single shot because photos of us both are in short supply in that pre-selfie era. I am 10 or 11, Sophie’s age in the film. My Dad is 31 or 32, a little younger than I am now. We happen to be in Turkey.
P.S. T.S. Eliot
“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity, Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards, Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”