Nazlı Dinçel


Nazlı Dinçel (Turkey / USA) is a first-generation immigrant born in Ankara, Turkey. She studied at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her films have screened at museums, festivals, and micro-cinemas around the world, including the MoMA and MoMI (NY), IFF Rotterdam, MuMok (Vienna), BAFICI (Buenos Aires), Hong Kong IFF, etc. Dinçel’s hand-made work reflects on experiences of disruption. She records the body in context with arousal, immigration, dislocation, and desire with the film object: its texture, color and the tractable emulsion of the 16mm material. Her use of text as image, language, and sound imitates the failure of memory and her own displacement within a western society. She is recipient of The Helen Hill Award from the Orphan Film Symposium, Ann Arbor Film Festival’s Eileen Maitland Award, a Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship (2018), and is currently a 2019–2020 Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard University. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


SCREENING DATES: December 2 – December 23, 2020

FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM: Shape of a Surface, 9 min, 2017; Solitary Acts #5, 5 min, 2015

Shape of a Surface, 9 min, 2017

The ground holds accounts of once pagan, then christian and now muslim ruins of the city built for Aphrodite. As she takes revenge on Narcissus, mirrors reveal what is seen and surfaces, limbs dismantle and marble turns flesh.

Solitary Acts #5, 5 min, 2015

Amidst the various concerns that inform the films of Turkish-born, US-based artist and filmmaker Nazlı Dinçel is a recurring curiosity in touch. Her films are often populated by bodies seen most often in fragments, both lonely and in embrace, explicit yet never pornographic. With a poetic form that manages to hold lightness and intensity at the same time, Dinçel’s films record the body in context with arousal, emigration, disturbance and desire, all through a fascination and focus on the medium’s material. Working exclusively on 16mm film, Dinçel continuously disrupts, challenges and manipulates sound, text and image. She is in a constant conversation with the filmic material that is both intimate and defiant, both vulnerable and rough but always intermingling in unexpected ways. – Tara Hakim


Cathleen Evans: You once said that you have “no other option than to make work about the body in order to understand [your]self.” How do you approach the incorporation of your own bodily experiences in your films? How do you care for yourself in the process?

Nazlı Dinçel: I think of this in terms of an image, or how something that is filmed loses its original significance when it is projected, because it is then physically something that happened in the past. I get this question at screenings often, asking me how I manage exposing things about myself or showing myself explicitly on film. I used to think of this as a form of confession that helped me understand why I was alive, but now it has formed into a quest to understand the medium, or why I make films. I don’t have a good answer to this if I think of it in terms of physical fulfillment. The films are effective because I don’t care for myself in the process, which is why it is confusing for me because the films often speak about my personal experiences. I feel so removed from my work by the time that it is finished, that I just see a feeling on the screen rather than an image representing something. This is also why I love being able to play with language and use very academic text in my last two films because everything is allowed to lose its original meaning: text, images, sound, time. Some people take this too seriously and try to understand every word and context which I’m sure is frustrating, but it is meant to give the viewer freedom to wander, not to restrict the experience.

Full interview at cléo journal