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Binnur Karaevli is an award-winning director and producer with an expansive background in film and theatre. She was born and raised in Turkey. She attended Robert College High School in Istanbul. She received her BFA with honors from Carnegie-Mellon University in Drama and was awarded the Bud Yorkin Directing award upon graduation. She worked at the Arena Stage and San Diego Reportory Theatres as an Assistant Director and a Dramaturg. During her tenure at the San Diego Repertory Company, she co-founded and co-produced “WordWorks”, a laboratory for new plays. She was the Literary Manager at the Los Angeles Theatre Center where, in 1991, she founded the "Platform", an acclaimed political cabaret. She attended University of Southern California’s Graduate Film School and earned her MFA in Film in 1996.
Her short narrative films, "Dance of the Whirling Dervish" and "Evelyn of the Desert" received prizes from several festivals including, Nürnberg Film Festival, Germany; New Orleans International Film Festival; and Cine-5 Film Competition, Istanbul. She has worked for various TV Channels and production companies in the US and Turkey including, PBS, BBC, and Ridley Scott and Associates. She has also produced and directed documentaries and promotional films for various non-profit organizations including the Global Friendship Through Space Education and Space Camp Turkey. Binnur produced and directed "Searching for Paradise", a documentary about cultural identity, which won the Best Documentary Awards at the Moondance International Film Festival and WinFemme Film Festival in 2002. Binnur splits her time between Istanbul and Los Angeles and is currently producing an adaptation of the acclaimed novel, “Palace of Tears” as a motion picture.
JILL RYTIE LUTZ
Jill Rytie Lutz is a producer passionate about storytelling through documentary film. In 2009, she produced Day After Disaster and Sniper: Inside the Crosshairs for the History Channel with docu/reality company Karga Seven Pictures in Los Angeles. Before K7, Lutz worked for Randall Wallace's Wheelhouse Entertainment for seven years, starting out as Wallace's executive assistant and on-set assistant for the Mel Gibson Vietnam movie We Were Soldiers. After her promotion to Manager, Production and Development at Wheelhouse, she helped start and ran the company's documentary division for which she produced the Discovery Channel docudrama Fight or Die in 2008. She originally came to Los Angeles in 1997 as a participant in the prestigious Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Internship Program. Lutz is a magna cum laude honors graduate of the University of Georgia where she was a two-time student judge for the Peabody Awards Documentary Category. Currently she is an active member of the International Documentary Association and is married to actor Mike Lutz.
Duncan McLean is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker. After graduating with honors from Duke University, he attended the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television and earned his MFA in 1995. Duncan worked as a chief lighting technician and cinematographer on a wide variety of projects, ranging from low-budget independents to multi-million dollar studio productions. In 1997, he traveled to Turkey to photograph Binnur Karaevli's award-winning documentary Searching for Paradise.
Shifting his focus to post-production in 2000, he edited television series for networks including MTV, TLC, Spike, ABC Family and Bravo. In 2004, Duncan directed his first show, the Country Music Television (CMT) special World's Greatest Tour Buses, and has since directed, produced, and edited several documentaries for the network. Currently, Duncan is working as a producer/editor on the documentary short See Me, about a photography project for AIDS orphans in South Africa, and as a producer/director/editor on Block 57, a feature-length documentary about energy development in the Amazon and its impact on local indigenous cultures. Using footage from the Block 57 shoots, Duncan has edited three segments for the PBS foreign affairs show Foreign Exchange and is currently completing the documentary for a 2010 release.
Eric Grush is Los Angeles based, award-winning editor/storyteller with a penchant for documentaries, independent film and performance-based productions. He received his MFA from UCLA in Directing and Cinematography in 2000 and has since received several awards for his filmmaking and editing. Voices Unveiled is Grush’s first project collaborating with Karaevli. He may be reached at his website, halomediaarts.com.
Supervising Sound Editor and Re-Recording Mixer
Paul Hackner is an award-winning sound editor with over 17 years in the film business. His credits in the sound department include the "Matrix" films, "Hustle and Flow," and many highly acclaimed films and documentaries.
Joe Romano started out as a trumpet player at the age of 7.
He studied with the renowned brass teacher Dr. Donald S.
Reinhardt in Philadelphia. Joe began working as a studio musician while attending The Combs Conservatory Of Music in Philadelphia. In 1969 he was hired by the popular recording group The Checkmates Ltd. to be their musical director. In
1974 he moved to California and began his careeras a studio musician, arranger, composer and producer. Joe has recorded with some of the topnames in the Jazz and popular music world including Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, Christina Aguilara, The Jazz Crusaders and Tom Waits. His film and television composing credits include CHASING THE WIND for PBS, SEVEN FROM HEAVEN for Warner Bros., VAN NUYS BLVD for Columbia Pictures, RAY'S MALE HETEROSEXUAL DANCE HALL for Chanticleer Films, which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short, STRAPPED for HBO among others. Joe has collaborated before with Binnur Karaevli on two projects, award-winning documentary SEARCHING FOR PARADISE and award-winning narrative short, DANCE OF THE WHIRLING DERVISH. Joe now lives in Ashland Oregon with his wife, playwright and screenwriter Lisa Loomer, and their 12-year-old son Marcello. Joe continues to compose for the theater and movies.
Cihan Sanli is a cinematographer based in Istanbul, Turkey. He has worked for many television channels in Turkey shooting documentaries and series.
by Binnur Karaevli
As I began researching Voices Unveiled two years ago, I had no intention of making a film about Turkish women. I was more interested in making a film that followed up on the themes of my previous documentary, Searching for Paradise which was all about coming to terms with Western education and Eastern heritage, as it were.
In fact when I started out, the title of my new film was, Where East Meets West. However, the last time I was in Istanbul, I spent a lot of time walking down the narrow cobblestone streets and talking to all kinds of people. And as I sat sipping Turkish coffee by the beautiful Bosphorus, my ideas for my new film started to shift.
The people that intrigued me the most were the women of Istanbul and, in turn, Turkish women as a whole. I met so many interesting women ranging from doctors, professors, and businesswomen to street vendors, maids, and religious conservatives. The colorful tapestry of women who made up Turkish society drew me in and offered me a chance to tell a story about courage and perseverance through the lives of these women. The contrasts between the women were even more interesting. While some of these women enjoyed the basic freedoms we take for granted in the West, others still needed their husband's permission to go to the store. Some women in the Southeastern part of Turkey did not even know that they had rights as individuals while a substantial number of Turkish corporations were run by powerful women.
Turkey is a secular democracy with a predominantly Muslim population. Turkish women are much better off than the other women of the Middle East. When the Turkish Republic was formed in 1923, the founder of the republic, Ataturk made clear choices by secularizing the country and giving equal rights and the right to vote to Turkish women. Chadors, turbans and religious clothing were banned from government institutions and women were liberated from the confines of the dark veils. As a result of these freedoms, within 80 years, Turkish women became an integral part of society. Many Turkish women are educated and professional. However, the patriarchal and Islamic roots of the Ottoman Empire that ruled Turkey for 600 years still persist. Many women, though seemingly free, still limit themselves by the demands of tradition, religion and family.
Growing up as a young girl in Istanbul, I was always intrigued by the unspoken societal rules for young girls and women. It seemed to me that the biggest concern of my mother was always "what would the neighbors think?" My mother was not the only one to have this ominous concern about the neighbors' perceptions, but it felt like the entire society behaved according to the same worries. The other preoccupation was a woman's honor, and as a child, I never understood why a woman's honor was regarded in the sexual context and a man's was regarded differently.
All these long-forgotten thoughts about being a woman in Turkey came back to me when I found myself discussing issues such as the right to wear the Islamic headscarf to government offices and government subsidized universities. More than 80 years after the liberation from the veil, some Islamic women took to the streets for the right to wear the Islamic headscarf. The great irony of this situation still intrigues me. I believe that there is a direct correlation between women's rights and the lack of democracy in the Muslim Middle East. It is no coincidence that Turkey is the only progressive and democratic country in the region and the only country with a constitution that grants equal rights to women.
However, I was intent on making a film about interesting women who were involved in the arts and politics and who contributed something to their communities. When I met Belkis, Nur and Banu, I knew that the film would be about women of all ages who try to live authentic lives. I've identified with the stories of these women, perhaps because I have been trying to live a life not governed by society, tradition or other people's wishes but by my own truth. Therefore, I decided that my film would be about women who fight the system, and dare to make a difference and boldly embark upon journeys to fulfill their destinies.
Crew Photo (top L to R): Binnur Karaevli, Jill Rytie Lutz, (center) Melinda Epler, (front) Cihan Sanli, Vedat