Abuse of power in the film industry: “Hurt yourself, really hurt yourself”: Actress Merve Aksoy makes serious allegations against her director

Merve Aksoy spends the evening when her dream is shattered in a velvet blue upholstered armchair in an old East Berlin premiere cinema.

Abuse of power in the film industry: “Hurt yourself, really hurt yourself”: Actress Merve Aksoy makes serious allegations against her director

Merve Aksoy spends the evening when her dream is shattered in a velvet blue upholstered armchair in an old East Berlin premiere cinema. Wearing a suit and red tie, she sinks into the back row of the Kino International with its wood-panelled walls. On the screen, a pale female body, naked, shimmers in the darkness. Aksoy sees how the woman's narrow chest rises and falls, how her hand goes under the waistband of an unbuttoned pair of jeans, again and again.

The woman on the screen is her. And with her, around 500 strangers in the hall are watching what, according to her contract, should not have been shown on screen. Her naked upper body is shown for one minute and 51 seconds, without cutting or camera changes, as she appears to masturbate herself. It is February 22nd, 2023, the evening is her premiere, her first leading role in a film. Aksoy says today that she would have liked to run out of the cinema. She had an idea. A friend had discovered a video online, “I just saw your tits.”

The Berlinale, one of the most famous festivals in the film world, brings together stars and those who want to become one every year. Director Engin Kundağ and his actress Merve Aksoy made it into the talent competition last year with a film called “Ararat”. Kundağ, now 40 years old, is seen as someone who wants to change the rules of cinema. His films should appear as less staged as possible. The federal government co-financed “Ararat” with 350,000 euros, and the broadcaster Arte and Saarländischer Rundfunk co-produced it.

Aksoy, then 28 years old, dreamed of a career. "Ararat" takes place in the furthest corner of Turkey, between poverty and decay. At the foot of Mount Ararat, a dormant volcano with a snow-capped peak. It's a quiet film. Zeynep, the daughter, has returned to the family from Berlin. Her father has a stone processing business, her mother is allowed to bring tea, but not much else. Three scenes stand out: Aksoy's character masturbates, she is raped, she is beaten.

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