Serdar Kökceoglu: Mimaroğlu:

… subtitle: The Robinson of Manhattan Island… 

The Happy Woman and the Sad Man… that’s how the couple Güngõr and Ilhan Mimaroğlu has been characterised, tells the son of Güngõr, Rüstem Batum. He says so in the third and last chapter of the multilayered documentary that (also) is a love story. The couple was together for more than 50 years. Ilhan died in 2012, in New York, as the title says; after his death Güngõr returned to Istanbul. 

In New York, at the Columbia University, Ilhan Mimaroğlu studied music, became a pioneer in electronic music, published avant-garde music, set up his own record company Finnadar and worked with – among others – Charles Mingus. Güngõr Mimaroğlu was a very active leftist in the 1960’es and 1970’es, took part in many demonstrations and ended often, arrested, in police stations, where her husband picked her up! When computers ”took over” his kind of music, Ilhan Mimaroğlu gave up composing and went for street photography, while she became a business woman.

Apart from in the 3rd out of 3 chapters you don’t see Güngõr but hears her voice telling about the two and their life – and some music historians bring the necessary information to image from New York and Istanbul… Ilhan was also a fine filmmaker as the film shows in a brilliant way using his 8mm material in such an appealing way that you want to go back to the two metropoles right away.

The scoop of the film – the multilayerism – is that the filmmakers have succeeded to make sound and image go together to create an atmosphere that conveys the greatness of the artist combined with voice-off’s and the few but important pieces where you see him perform. Plus – again few – footage from NY of today and of Güngõr, now a fine old lady alone in her appartment in Istanbul.

Cinema for the ear was what Ilhan Mimaroğlu called his composed music, ”rebellion against tradition” was his mission, also expressed on the back of a t-shirt that says: ”Measly Mozart”!

He was not happy with the lack of interest in his art. When he closed Finnadar, the record company, he says “thanks for not listening. I am Ilhan Mimaroğlu. And that’s it.” 

Let me say ”that’s it” as well – thank you for a fascinating look at a fine multi-artist, who deserves much more attention. 

Turkey, 2020, 77 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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