During my BA studies on Economics at Istanbul Bilgi University, I spent a year in India working as a fundraiser for a leading MBA university, the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad (2007). It is there that I discovered my interest in the cultural aspects of being human, and soon after I went to study in the UK as a MPhil student and research graduate assistant at the University of Kent on Social Anthropology. I have spent two years researching human-environmental relationships among the cave dweller community living in Cappadocia, Turkey. As part of my thesis, I made my first documentary film which I named 28 Days on the Moon (2012). Written and filmed by myself, the documentary plays homage to my roots and ancestors in Cappadocia, and advocates for local livelihoods in the UNESCO World Heritage Site and Protected Area. The documentary film was screened in various film festivals around the world, and broadcasted by Turkey’s foremost documentary TV Channel, IZ TV, for an entire year.
During my write up stage, I joined the Ladakh Society for Traditional Medicines, an NGO in Ladakh (India), towards the revitalization of Sowa Rigpa (Tibetan Medicine). I worked with the project coordinator on financial and administrative issues for five months, and later found myself filming the journey of an inspiring Tibetan doctor, Amchi Karma Chodon, whom I was fortunate enough to travel with. The result was the documentary film Amchi (2013), which has been screened at various film festivals. Among the many awards it won, the most inspiring filmmaker of the year award was given by the Jakarta International Film Festival (2014). This film advocates for the transmission of traditional knowledge to next generations for a more sustainable public healthcare model in rural areas of Ladakh and also highlights the importance of medicinal plant conservation in the Himalayas, which are under great danger due to overgrazing, climate change and unscientific exploitation.
My recent documentary film Hey Geçi! (Hey Goat! 2014) tells the migration story of a nomadic family from the Sarikeçili tribe, herding 500 goats in Southern Turkey. The film intends to raise awareness and open discussions on ways to support and protect nomadic pastoralists’ livelihood rights as well as understand their cultural conservation practices and its effects on the enhancement of biodiversity of the region. This film is produced as part of the Nature Culture Project of Doga Dernegi and is sponsored by the Mediterranean Consortium for Nature & Culture. It has been screened as part of the “on the move” exhibition in the History Museum of Geneva and won the jury prize at the International Festival of Sustainable Development Films held in Slovakia. My latest musical documentary Refugee Here I Am (April 2015) directed together with Enzo Ikah, a Congolese musician and refugee himself, has premiered in cinemas in Turkey, and is currently touring around the world intending to create dialogue between the displaced and the authorities in charge.
Whilst completing a doctorate at Bern University in Switzerland, I currently work as a researcher on a Swiss National Science Foundation funded visual anthropology research project documenting unaccompanied minor refugees in Turkey and their biographies on education. I continue filming and producing my own films under my own label, Tibetto Productions.