Skip to main content

Hold Still wins “Best Documentary” at the 43rd Istanbul Film Festival


Left to right: Producer Enis Köstepen, director Berke Baş, and jury members Berna Gençalp, Evrim Kaya, and Orhan Eskiköy. 28 April 2024. Photo by: Salih Üstündağ

The 43rd Istanbul Film Festival, held between April 17-28, 2024, concluded with an award ceremony held at Atlas 1948 on Sunday evening, April 28. Hold Still, one of the ten films competing in this year’s National Documentary Competition, was awarded the “Best Film” award in this category.

Ten documentary features competed in the festival this year, including Hold Still, which was produced by Hafıza Merkezi. The jury of the National Documentary Competition included director Berna Gençalp, director Orhan Eskiköy, and film critic Evrim Kaya. Presenting the award to the Hold Still team, Kaya explained the jury’s reasoning in the following words: “The Best Film Award in the National Documentary Competition goes unanimously to Hold Still for its simple and consistent aesthetics, its gentle and nuanced language, and for once again reminding us of documentary cinema’s inevitable connection with the quest for justice since its very inception.”

Film crew during the interview following the screening on Saturday, April 27, which took place at the Beyoğlu Cinema.
Film crew, relatives of the disappeared, and Saturday Mothers pose for a group photo after the screening on Saturday, April 27, which took place at the Beyoğlu Cinema.
On Saturday, April 27, during the screening at the Beyoğlu Cinema. Photo: Belmin Söylemez
On Sunday 28 April, Davut Altınkaynak’s father Abdülaziz Altınkaynak speaks during the interview that followed the screening at Kadıköy Sinematek.

While accepting the award, director Berke Baş said: “We think that this award will make the subject matter of the film and the struggle for justice more visible. Thank you very much for recognizing us with this award. We were also aware that we were among strong competition; I congratulate all my director friends and their crew. In the last two days of the Istanbul Film Festival, we have seen that this case which the judiciary is trying to cover up will not be closed. We received very good reactions and the belief that we can achieve something with this movie came back. This struggle doesn’t come down to the courts, I think we all need to get involved in the struggle to prevent the statute of limitations on these cases. Sometimes it can happen even by watching the movie.”

Producer Enis Köstepen expressed his gratitude to the relatives of the disappeared who accompanied them during the screenings for the past two days and to the Saturday Mothers during his speech:

“We were able to make this documentary thanks to Hafıza Merkezi. The idea for this film came up during a meeting Hafıza Merkezi organized to discuss the cases that follow gross human rights violations. Abdülaziz Altınkaynak, the father of Davut Altınkaynak, one of the disappeared featured in our documentary, and his sister Emine Altınkaynak are here, I send my greetings to them. Erdal Kuzu, the lawyer of the Dargeçit trial, is not with us, but we would not have been able to make this documentary if he had not made room for us on the seats in his car. But another lawyer, Veysel Vesek, a close friend of Erdal’s and someone who has followed the Dargeçit trial and other forced disappearance cases, has been with us for the past two days, I send my greetings to him too.

I thank the jury very much for their evaluation. And I thank Evrim because she left no need for me to make a speech for Çayan and Çiğdem. They are two filmmakers who have always stood by the relatives of the disappeared. Their freedom is crucial.

In the coming weeks, the Saturday People will celebrate their 1000th week. They have reclaimed Galatasaray Square, which is very close to here. They are there every Saturday at 12.00 pm. We should all be there. Thank you.”

Directed by Berke Baş and produced by Enis KöstepenHold Still was shot between 2018 and 2022. In 1995, seven people were forcibly disappeared in Mardin’s Dargeçit district. The documentary follows the court process of the Dargeçit JİTEM Trial, opened after years of struggle by their relatives, their lawyer Erdal Kuzu, and the Human Rights Association. It focuses on the last five years of the trial, which began in 2015. At a time when we face the risk of the dismissal of cases regarding the gross human rights violations committed in the 1990s due to the 30-year statute of limitations, we aim to raise the voice of the struggle against impunity through Hold Still’s distribution.

Hafıza Merkezi has been monitoring the Dargeçit trial as part of since 2015. The course of the trial, including the political atmosphere that made it possible for these indictments to be drafted and how the trajectory changed over time, opens the door to multi-layered debates on impunity, confronting the past, conflict resolution, justice, and the search for truth in Turkey. We hope that Hold Still will contribute to the expansion of these debates and become a part of the memory of the human rights movement as a documentary that honors the resilience of the struggle for this cause.

We invite individuals, initiatives, and institutions who would like to screen Hold Still in collaboration with Hafıza Merkezi in the coming months to contact us at