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Artist, Kilim Expert, Curator
Belkis is a warrior, a visionary and the perfect example of the struggle one has to undertake for "self-expression". Her tapestry art is inspired by science and yet the form of it is deeply traditional.
Confident and outspoken, Belkis has helped several of her female weavers escape their abusive husbands. During the rare quiet moments of her life, she reflects back on her choices and realizes that she never had the right to choose her own mate. She married a much older artist to escape from the confines of her traditional family then she stayed married because divorce was looked down upon. Finally she had the courage to divorce and pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Therefore, Belkis is committed to hleping other women less fortunate than she is by employing them as weavers an by donating her exhibition proceeds to organizations such as The Mother and Child Education Foundation
Belkis' art is heavily influenced by quantum physics, her environment in Turkey and by nature. Besides being a world-renowned kilim expert, a curator and artist, Belkis is a passionate environmentalist as well. She was a founding member of the World Wildlife Fund - Turkey.
BELKIS ON HER IDENTITY:
"I want to be known as a global artist... I want to be accepted as a global artist... Istanbul is where I live but my art is global..."
BELKIS ON WESTERN ATTITUDE:
"I feel like the West views me through a filter. They first see me as a woman from the East, from an Islamic country..."
BELKIS ON FAMILY AND TRADITIONS:
"To have to lie is a horrible thing. It is against my character. But when I was younger I had to lie to my mother about my boyfriend. My family forced me to lie."
BELKIS ON HER FUTURE AND HER PAST:
"I want to know more about the mystery of life. As we get older and closer to death, we wonder about the meaning of life. Think about it, if I was born in a village and if I was not educated, could I be the warrior I am today?"
NUR BEKATA MARDIN
Teacher, Women's Rights Activist, Wife and Mother
Nur is a retired university instructor and a very busy women's rights activist. Charming, soft-spoken and maternal in a youthful way, Nur spends most of her time working on different projects that benefit the underprivileged and uneducated girls and women of Turkey. Through Nur's activism, we meet a variety of different women and explore their struggles to have a better life.
Nur comes from a family of strong women scholars. To protest the wearing of the veil, Nur's own great aunt defied her uncle's orders to wear the veil and when she was ordered to do so, threw herself into the treacherous waters of the Bosphorus River. She was saved by fishermen and grew up to become one of the first female professors in Turkey.
Besides shepherding projects to empower young women and men of Mardin by forming a cooperative and teaching them the traditional arts and crafts of their regions, Nur is also a founding member of the Peace Education Center at the Bosphorus University in Istanbul, an active member of WINPEACE (Women's Initiative for Peace) and Ka-Der, an association to help and promote women in politics in Turkey
NUR ON HONOR KILLINGS:
"Honor killings are still committed, especially in the Southeastern region bordering Syria and Iraq. The situation is much worse in the Arabic countries. Honor killing is the act of murdering a woman to clean a family's honor. If a woman is raped or if a woman runs away with a man she loves. Her family decides that she has brought dishonor to the family and to only way to clear that is to kill her. Usually the family gives this task to the youngest male member because a juvenile will not be in prison for long."
NUR ON DEMOCRACY:
"Democracy is impossible without empowering women."
Through Nur's activism, we meet a variety of different women and explore their struggles to have a better life.
BANU YUCELER HANTAL
Ph.D. Psychology Student and Dancer
During the filming of the documentary, Banu had recently gotten married and was working towards a PhD degree in Pastoral Psychology. She is a champion ballroom dancer in Latin dances and has represented Turkey in international competitions. She is also a dance instructor and a novice Sufi who is learning the ancient ritual of "sema" which means praying by whirling practiced by the followers of Rumi.
Banu is currently teaching Psychology at a University and at the same time trying to establish her Life Coaching practice. She has recently retired from being a professional dancer/instructor.
Banu defines herself as a "truth seeker" trying to integrate the principles of mind, body and soul in to her life. She represents the younger generation of emancipated Turkish women. She is soft-spoken but confident and direct. She is passionate about her personal interests: psychology, dance and spirituality.
Banu has been in conflict with her family because of her dancing since being a dancer is still a taboo in some circles in Turkey. The main concern of her mother is, "What would the neighbors think?" Banu had to constantly reassure her that she was doing nothing wrong and that her dancing was legitimate. Her brother looked down upon her dancing even though she and her partner had won titles in several European competitions. However, Banu is a fighter and she is determined to live her life the way she chooses.
BANU ON HER CHOICES:
"In Turkey, if you are a young woman, you have to fight for your dreams and your personal freedom. But once you do, people respect you and then you can live your life according to your own choices. That's what I strive for everyday."