NEWS: Seyfi Teoman, 1977 – 2012

A tribute to Turkish filmmaker and GFI grant recipient Seyfi Teoman

Turkish filmmaker and friend of GFI, Seyfi Teoman, passed away on May 8. (Photo: Bulut Film)

This week, we received news of the tragic passing of Turkish filmmaker Seyfi Teoman. He was 35.

Seyfi was the director of SAINTS—a recent GFI grant recipient that was scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. In script form, we found the film compelling, thoughtful and unique, all characteristics of Seyfi’s previous works that earned him international recognition. I’m happy we had the chance to tell him how much we appreciated his work.

Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Seyfi in person, SAINTS and his other films speak volumes about Seyfi and how he’ll be remembered by his family and friends.

SAINTS tells the story of a jaded doctor who, among other things, struggles with his conscience over the part he plays in treating a catastrophic epidemic. As Seyfi writes in his director’s statement, “[SAINTS] is a story that has potential to make us think about the grey zone between good and bad in human nature. What makes somebody a good person? Is passive goodness possible? And is personal goodness possible without social responsibility? Does it make sense to fight badness even when you know your efforts are futile?”

The appropriately-named SAINTS allows us to ponder the idea of morality. It is a reminder that we all have choices as human beings, and in this case, two choices in particular: Do we “fight the good fight” or simply keep our heads down because we don’t believe anything we do, however small, can change the course of history?

At GFI, we are faced with these dilemmas and difficult choices everyday, just as the main character in SAINTS is. For example, if we know a film will only be seen by limited audiences or will cause us to incur a loss, is the film worth distributing it at all? Our answer is absolutely “yes!” and here’s why: While some of the films we fund and support may not necessarily make us millionaires or fuel revolutions (at least outwardly), GFI operates under the firm belief that any story is a story that deserves to be told through film. We believe in the power of these stories. Collectively, these unique perspectives open our eyes to the world around us and have the potential to create a more peaceful and empathic world.

And so, as we remember Seyfi and the important questions he raised through his films, I hope that we can all pause and contemplate the unique role each of us plays in working towards a better world. There’s no doubt that we all have the power—the question is, how will we use it?

Angelica Dongallo works with the Acquisitions and Granting Programs, and writes frequently about GFI filmmakers, grant recipients and the Initiative’s global “family.”

Print Friendly
Facebook Twitter Email

Leave a Reply