… 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.