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My Story

I am a filmmaker, musician and author. I was born in Ankara, grew up in Sydney and have lived with one interruption in Germany since 1980.

I started my career as an actor in Recklinghausen, later I played in a Turkish-German rock band and hosted music shows on the radio. Since the mid-90s, I dedicated myself to filmmaking and screenwriting.

In 2003 I moved to Istanbul, where I worked for Turkish television for ten years and shot dozens of prime time documentaries that received extensive media coverage, high ratings and awards. After being fired from the TV channel in 2013 for political reasons, I produced two long documentaries myself. The first one was screened at the cinema in Istanbul and festivals in New York, South Africa and Germany, and received an award. The second ran in 12 German cinemas - but not in Turkey.

Since 2018, I have been living and working in Germany again.

Stations

01

Ankara 1960

My mother belongs to the Shapsug tribe of the Circassians from Caucasia. In 1864, her ancestors had to leave Russia and came to the Black Sea coast of today’s Turkey. My father’s parents, who lived in Prosotsani in Greece and also had to emigrate in 1924, also landed there. My grandfather was mayor of Bafra and later, a member of parliament.

The love between my parents was not well received by their families. Therefore I was born in Ankara, visited the French nursery there and knew “Frère Jacques” by heart when I was four years old.

02

Sydney 1968

The love between my parents did not last long. My mother emigrated to Australia and took my sister and me with her. That was a brave move for women in those days.

In Sydney, I went to Auburn Primary School and became dux of the school. Thus, I was allowed to attend the prestigious Fort Street High School afterwards. At that time, I became a John Lennon fan and could sing “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by heart.

Due to extreme puberty, I left home and settled down in Eden on the southwest coast of Australia. There I lived with a Christian Aboriginal family and sang gospels. After three months, I was found and sent to Istanbul to learn Turkish culture and language.

03

Istanbul 1976

One year after I arrived in Istanbul, my father died. There, I attended another prestigious high school called “Kadıköy Maarif Koleji”. The lessons were in English, and I discovered the music of Ruhi Su, an opera singer who reinterpreted Anatolian songs. Later, I began to study acting in Kadiköy, which I soon had to interrupt.

Since everyone was politically motivated in schools and universities during the turbulent 1970s in Turkey, I decided to join a left-wing movement which was more appealing to me than the fascist Grey Wolves but was not very attractive in the eyes of the Turkish state. Therefore I was arrested several times. On the last time, where I allegedly provoked workers to strike with an accordion, I spent a month and a half in jail due to this charge. Even after 40 years, they still keep my records. That’s why a newspaper reported about it recently.

04

Cologne 1980

Because it was no longer cosy to be in Istanbul, I emigrated to Cologne. There, I worked first as an actor at the Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen Theater between 1983 and 1986. I also acted in various films, including “Yasemin” by Hark Bohm. Both he and Dario Fo, whom I had the chance to watch live and meet, inspired me. In 1983 I became a father. Two more children were born later.

In 1986, together with Geo Schaller, I founded the band “Yarinistan” with whom I toured between London and Alma Ata until 1993. Albums, awards, chart positions and more than 20 television appearances followed. We sang songs about the secret love affairs of young immigrants and Germans.

From 1993, I began hosting various radio shows on WDR, from 1997 working in television. In 1998, I graduated from a film school in Amsterdam. In 2001 I shot my debut film “Asylum on the Bosphorus” for ZDF/3Sat.

05

Istanbul 2003

For personal reasons, I emigrated to Istanbul, which had become cosy again. There, I organised music festivals and shot dozens of documentaries, documentary series - at first as a freelancer, from 2006 on under the umbrella of the then respected private network NTV, which has nothing in common with the German channel of the same name. Many of my films received broad resonance in the print media, awards and high viewer ratings.

In 2010 I married again, a German woman I met in Istanbul. We lived on the Princes’ Islands and watched German TV thrillers on Sunday evenings, which we received via satellite.

During the Gezi protests at Taksim Square in 2013, NTV fired me along with many other colleagues. After that, I produced two independent feature documentaries. Most recently, we lived in Mardin in the Kurdish area and Antakya on the Syrian border.

06

Königswinter 2018

In 2018, Turkey became uncosy again. My wife was classified as an enemy of the state and deported from the country. We had to sell all our property and settled in our new home in Königswinter, a small town on the Rhine.

In 2019, I founded the formation “Die Mampen” together with Alessandro Palmitessa and Klaus Mages, and with a little help from friends. Cabaret artists Robert Griess, Fatih Cevikkollu, director Heinz Kloss and my eldest son Ekrem (Eko Fresh) supported us in the creation of the musical revue “Songs and Stories in Transit”.


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