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Sibel – Interview

By Film

Sibel, a tale of female empowerment in Turkey’s Black Sea remote region

Interview by Eugénie Malinjod, for London Film Week, on 6 December 2018
with Cagla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti (both directors) and Damla Sönmez (main actress)

Turkish-French directors Çağla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti explore the topic of exclusion and our relationship to the “Other” in their latest collaboration Sibel, a drama starring Dalma Sönmez. Winner of the FIPRESCI International Critics’ Prize at the Locarno International Film Festival, Sibel is a tale of female empowerment that recounts the story of a 25-year-old mute woman living as an outcast in a remote mountain village near Turkey’s Black Sea, who finds her true voice when she encounters a helpless and mysterious injured fugitive. On the occasion of the film’s UK Premiere at London Film Week last night, directors Çağla Zencirci, Guillaume Giovanetti and actress Damla Sömnez shared the secrets behind the scenes of Sibel.

Where did the idea of Sibel come from?

Çağla Zencirci: We were first interested in the whistling language, which we read about in a book thirteen years ago. Therefore, we decided to go explore the Turkish Black Sea area. When we arrived there, we realised the language still existed and people were still speaking it.
Guillaume Giovanetti: At the same time, we found out that this language is endangered due to technology and the young generation who cannot speak it well. As we were sitting in a café there, we came across this woman who entered the village whistling. Whilst people were answering her in Turkish, she kept on whistling and that’s how we got the idea of making Sibel.

How did you proceed to shoot the film?

C.Z.: We spent a lot of time observing how people live in the village. We met with the women of the area, we stayed at the mayor’s house, which is actually Sibel’s house in the film.
G.G.: The idea was to get really familiar with these people, for the audience to believe Damla was one of them, that she was born and raised in this village too.

Sibel is clearly an outcast. What does she embody in this conservative village, compared to the others?

Damla Sömnez: When I first read the script, I was a bit frightened and at the same time, I felt very similar to her. She represents some parts that we all have in us: the ones that want to be ourselves even more, the ones that seek to behave according to who we truly are and not to predefined social norms. Even though she appears to be different, she is a character everyone can identify to.

Can you share a few words about your actress Damla? How did you first find her?

C.Z.: We only worked with non-professional actors in our previous films. For Sibel, we really wanted to have professional actors on board. Damla immediately came to our mind to interpret Sibel.
G.G.: My grandmother was actually a fan of Damla, she was watching her on TV and following her work. After looking at her, it quickly became obvious that she was the one we wanted to work with.

Damla, how did you prepare yourself for the role?

D.S.: I met Çağla and Guillaume two and half years before shooting the film. At that time, the script was only five sentences long. It was just about this woman who is mute and who finds her own strength, who she really is through the narrative. You don’t often come across that many strong human stories so I immediately knew I wanted to be part of the project. The only issue was that I did not know how to whistle at all. As Çağla and Guillaume were writing the script, I was working on the whistling. However, the learning process became really intense just three months before the actual shooting. I had a professional teacher helping me, I stayed in the village to get familiar with its inhabitants and I spent a lot of time working in the fields. The idea was to be immersed and to experience the daily life in the village.

Can you tell us more about Ali? What effects does he have on Sibel?

C.Z.: Ali is another type of outcast. He clearly symbolises the one we don’t know, the one we are afraid of. This fear is not only specific to Turkey; it goes beyond borders. Whenever people are afraid of something or when they don’t know about someone, they think of it as a threat. They see it as terrorists, migrants, dangerous … Ali embodies all of them just by being unknown to the village. Ali and Sibel both understand each other, without prejudice and without any means of communication, which is capital in the film.
G.G.: Ali brings a new perspective to Sibel, something that she was lacking in life. Sibel has a lot of energy but does not know how to use it and as she is looking for herself, her encounter with Ali actually helps revealing who she really is.

What’s your view on Turkish cinema?

C.Z.: Turkey is a really big country with many different layers. The things you see on TV or in the media only represent a small part of Turkey but Turkish cinema is still very active. Of course it is difficult for independent cinema, like everywhere else in the world. There is some kind of independent cinema production going on and we can only hope that more and more women characters will be created because we all need it.

2018 Awards

By Film

LFW18 Awards

Our Jury has spoken, please discover the 2018 London Film Week Awards below

Feature Films

Best Film — Burning (Lee Chang-dong)

Jury Prize — M (Yolande Zauberman)

Best Director — Lee Chang-dong (Burning)

Best Acting — Damla Sönmez (Sibel)

Best Screenplay — Jung-Mi Oh, Lee Chang-dong (Burning)

Short Films

Best Short — Mercury (Kyla Simone Bruce)

Jury Prize — Three Centimetres (Lara Zeidan)

Virtual Reality

Best VR Project — The Green Line (Ioannis Bekiaris, Alexis Mavros)

London City Guide

By London

London Film Week takes place in the middle of the West End.
This dazzling area is home to spectacular shopping streets, a top-notch restaurant scene and a world-famous theatre district.

Follow our city guide when visiting London Film Week!


A haven of relative quiet right off tourist-crazed

Trafalgar Square, this turn-of-the-century building’s high-ceilinged galleries house portrait’s of England’s bygone celebs: a white-collared William Shakespeare, the Brontë girls by their brother Patrick, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – plus newer icons like Alan Bennett and Germaine Greer. Don’t mis the BP Portrait Award, every summer.

St Martin’s Place
+44 (0) 207 306 0055


Delve inside this iconic London department store

You could spend all day in this mock-Tudor paradise of floral-printed everything, from shirts to handbags, tea cosies to trays. As well as its eponymous prints, the department store, established in 1875, has an excellent edit of indie and established fashion and accessories, plus modern and Arts and Crafts furniture, lust-worthy kitchen wares, a flower stall, hair salon, pedicure spa and cafe.

Regent Street, London W1B 5AH
+44 (0)20 7734 1234


The Edition Hotel’s lavish dining room, where the 20ft ceiling is a spectacle of Belle Epoque mouldings and every inch of wall space holds work of art. Chef Jason Atherton’s food is suitably indulgent: expect lobster cocktail, ox cheek-stuffed macaroni and cheese with a dusting of bone-marrow, and crispy roast chicken with buttery gnocchi. Reservations accepted.

10 Berners Street
+44 (0) 207 781 0000


Old-school record stores of the Sounds of the Universe ilk are rare and precious these days. You’ll sniff that nostalgic dusty vinyl aroma here, of course, and mingle with a clientele that sifts purposefully through records while nodding their heads to the soulful music on repeat. The downstairs book section caters to students of jazz, reggae, rock and soul.

7 Broadwick Street
+44 (0) 207 734 3430


Modern takes on tapas at this lively Catalan kitchen

A formidable Catalan kitchen surrounded by a cosy 23-stool bar. The wait is at least an hour for two on any night of the week, but it’s worth it: patient punters are rewarded with supremely tasty tapas like braised pork belly, gooey tortilla and plump salt-fried prawns, paired with an impressive array of Spanish wines and sherries. No reservations.

54 Frith Street, London W1D 4SL
+44 (0)20 7813 8016


A stylish slip of a small plates restaurant, which balances formality and fun

The impressive dishes include creamy burrata with salty samphire and spicy chilli, and tender rabbit with Douglas fir and peas, while the relaxed staff and antique-style interior evoke a convivial Venetian bacaro. There’s room for 70 around tiny tables and at red leather banquettes. Lunch reservations only.

11 Berwick Street
+44 (0) 207 439 8627


This sleek cafe-shop is dedicated to England’s new national sport: cycling

Smart cafe meets cycling shop via this British brand’s first permanent site. The Rapha look starts with the top-of-the-line bikes hanging on the wall; the fashion-forward jerseys, hats and spandex tastefully arranged around the store underscore the aesthetic, and you can top it off with accessories like neon water bottles, gloves and even body balms. Make sure you caffeinate with one of Soho’s best brews while you browse.

85 Brewer Street, London W1F 9ZN
+44 (0)20 7494 9831


Scandi style on the high street

A Stockholm-born purveyor of inexpensive, on-trend clothes, jewellery, bags, shoes, beauty products and underwear. The white, airy store feels feminine, boutique-y and very cool – think boxy silk tops paired with wide-leg leather trousers and glossy patent-leather flats.

256-258 Regent Street, London W1B 3AA
+44 (0)20 7479 7070


An Italian grocer stocked with the best of the basics

A good Italian grocer should offer the finest breads, meats, wine and cheeses, and Lina Stores is one of the best. Fresh pasta can be taken away or cooked to order between noon and 2pm; Italian olive oils and vinegars pair beautifully with the flaky focaccia and fresh baguettes, and dozens of salami and prosciutto sit by asiago, taleggio and pecorino cheeses in the deli fridges.

18 Brewer Street, London W1F 0SH
+44 (0)20 7437 6482


If a classy evening enjoying some classic blues in a sophisticated London jazz bar sounds like the perfect night, then Ronnie Scott’s is the place to go. First opened in 1959, the Frith Street club entertains its patrons until 3am, with acts which in the past have included Sarah Vaughn, Miles Davis and Kurt Elling.

47 Frith Street
+44 (0) 207 439 0747


A cocktail friend’s dream speakeasy, hidden behind a nondescript door amid dim sum restaurants on Chinatown’s main drag. With red walls, a mirrored-tile ceiling and a bar made from an antique piano, the prohibition-era interiors evoke noirish opulence.

Drinks made with rhubarb, lemongrass and aged liqueurs are nothing short of meticulous. Reservations accepted.

13a Gerrard Street
+44 (0) 207 434 3559


With no number on its door, no name emblazoned outside, a ring-before-you-arrive guest policy, an underground location and some rather interesting house rules, this bar oozes mystery. Designed in the manner of a prohibition-era speakeasy, the land of milk and honey is, more accurately, overflowing with gin swizzles and champagne cocktails. The rules – no name dropping, no shouting, gentlemen will not introduce themselves to ladies – are only sporadically enforced, but they add to the general sense of sophistication. Access to non-members is by reservation only until 23:00

61 Poland Street
+44 (0) 207 065 6800


A favourite with young royals – Princes Harry and William, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie have been spotted here… all at the same time. And where the royals go the celebs follow and you’re likely to see a few of them here too. Scarlett Johansson and Paris Hilton are among the A-listers who’ve dropped by when they’re in town. Despite its popularity and ensuing publicity the door policy is really relaxed, there are no guest lists and the Polynesian vibe is chilled out with Tahiti inspired tropical cocktails.

1 Dover Street


Experience the edgy side of London’s nightlife with some cabaret – and a range of other outlandish acts – in The Box, located on Walker’s Court, between Brewer Street and Peter Street. This den of decadence is a stomping ground of the rich and famous, having welcomed celebrities including Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevingne and Rihanna.

11-12 Walker’s Court




Seven Unique London Cinemas

By London

London’s cinema scene is flourishing, with more and more quality venues programming great films. Here at London Film Week we had the pleasure of visiting some of London’s top cinemas to find the rarest gems in the capital’s cinematic crown. Here are seven of our top pics…

  1. Regent Street Cinema

Regent Street Cinema became the birthplace of UK cinema in February 1896, when it hosted the Lumière brothers’ first demonstration of their Cinématographe machine to British audiences. It’s rumored that audience members were so frightened by the moving images of an oncoming train they fled the screening. Between 2012-15 the building underwent a £6.1 million restoration, allowing the cinema to reopen after a 35-year hiatus. Now restored to its former Art Deco glory, it screens an impressive programme of classic and contemporary film and hosts festivals including London Film Week.

Regent Street, London W1B 5AH
+44 (0)20 7911 5050

2. The Prince Charles Cinema

During the 1960s and 70s the Prince Charles was a porn cinema, screening Britain’s longest continuous runs of French softcore erotic film Emmanuelle and Italian erotic history drama Caligula. Since then it’s branched out, achieving cult status among movie lovers for its programme of classic, arthouse, cult and Hollywood fare. Quentin Tarantino has called the Prince Charles a “Mecca” for lovers of quality films and London’s “queen’s jewel” of grindhouse cinema.

Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BY
+44 (0)20 7494 3654

3. Rio Cinema

This Art Deco gem located in North East London screens a range of films, from arthouse films to Hollywood blockbusters. Over its hundred-years history the cinema has had various incarnations: in 1958 it was the Classic Cartoon Theatre before it became the Classic Continental in 1960. It became a Tatler Cinema Club in 1971, screening uncensored adult films alongside live burlesque acts. Nowadays the Rio operates as a not-for-profit organisation, working with diverse programming partners. It hosts annual film festivals showcasing the work of Turkish, Korean and Kurdish filmmakers.

Kingsland High Street, London E8 2PB
+44 (0)20 7241 9410

4. BFI Southbank

Operated by the British Film Institute, BFI Southbank is dedicated to showing rare and critically acclaimed films from around the world. The cinema moved to its present site in 1957 and relaunched in 2007 as an enlarged complex; in addition to its three auditoriums the cinema houses an expansive médiathèque, gallery space, lively bar and restaurant.

Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XT
+44 (0)20 7928 3232

5. Ritzy Cinema

Brixton’s historic Ritzy Cinema opened its doors in 1911 and has served as a storied part of the local community ever since. It became a political and cultural hub during the 1970s and 80s, holding post-screening discussions on LGBT rights, Latin American politics, and feminist and environmental causes. Now part of the Arts Picturehouse chain, it screens a mixture of arthouse and political films alongside mainstream movies. When your film’s over, head to Upstairs at The Ritzy to catch live comedy, music and dance workshops.

Coldharbour Lane, London SW2 1JG
+44 (0)871 902 5747

6. Ciné Lumière

Named after the Lumière brothers, Ciné Lumière was opened in the late 1990s within the Institut Français, a grade II listed Art Deco building in West London. The Institut was designed by French architect Patrice Bonnet in the 1930s. It’s a cinema experience like no other: visitors to Ciné Lumière must ascend an exquisite marble staircase and pass Rodin’s statue L’Age d’Airain to reach their seats. The cinema shows a mixture of contemporary French, European and world cinema, with showings of French classics each Sunday.

17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT
+44 (0)20 7871 3515

7. Electric Cinema Notting Hill

This beautiful cinema in West London has been in almost continuous use since opening in 1910. In the late 60s it became home to The Electric Cinema Club, which used it for late-night showings of important international films, commencing with Luis Bunuel’s The Criminal Life Of Archibaldo De La Cruz. Following an extensive redevelopment in the early noughties, the cinema is now operated by the Soho House Group. It boasts a lavish auditorium with leather armchairs, an Electric Brasserie, and private members club.

Portobello Rd, London W11 2ED
+44 (0)20 7908 9696

We Are London Film Week

What is LFW?

London Film Week is an annual film festival taking place in the heart of London during the first week of December.

Get More Info

Keep Up to Date

Don't miss out on any information about London Film Week and come to the event in December!


Submit Your Film

London Film Week invites British and international filmmakers and producers to submit their projects to the Festival

Learn More

Top 10 Film Festivals in the World

By Film

The entire London Film Week team has been delving into international film festivals to unveil our list of the World’s Top 10 Film Festivals. With over 5,000 film festivals in existence, it wasn’t easy to only pick ten. Have a read below to see which ones made it to the selection!

  1. Festival de Cannes

Cannes Film Festival is widely considered the most prestigious film festival in the world, mainly because of its exclusivity and long history of premiering some of the greatest films of all time but also because it hosts the world’s busiest film market, the Marché du Film. With about 30,000 accredited film industry professionals, it is THE go-to film festival!

2. Toronto International Film Festival

Since it launched in 1976, TIFF has become one of the largest and most prestigious in the world, propelling emerging filmmakers onto the international scene and awards hopefuls toward the big autumn film season. It is the main entry point to the North American film market.

3. Venice Film Festival

Founded in 1932 as part of the Venice Biennale, the Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world and, in many respects, the most traditionally glamorous. The film festival is taking place in late August or early September on the island of the Lido, Venice, Italy. Screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi and in other venues nearby.

4. Berlin International Film Festival

Considered the world’s largest public festival with approximately in excess of 400,000 tickets sold to the audience, the public programme of the Berlin International Film Festival shows about 400 films per year, mostly international or European premieres. The film industry is massively present in Berlin (20,000 professional visitors), attending the European Film Market, the Co-Production Market or Berlinale Talents, amongst other events.

5. Sundance Film Festival

Sundance is not only the largest independent film festival in the United States, it is a lot of things: an exhibition for the most exciting independently produced films from the US and around the world; an early predictor of the year’s movie trends; a networking hub for filmmakers and other talent looking to break into the movie business; a forum for discussing issues and groundbreaking technologies that affect film and media; a place to spot celebrities in puffy jackets and furry boots; and a palate cleanser after the hectic autumn movie season.

6. International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

IDFA is the world’s biggest documentary festival, held annually in Amsterdam. Its Forum is Europe’s biggest co-financing market for international documentary productions, and its popular “Docs for Sale” is an important international documentary market where buyers, sales agents and producers converge. The festival also draws large local audiences, screening more than 200 documentaries and attracting nearly 120,000 visitors.

7. Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival

The Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival has become the world’s premiere cinema event dedicated to short films. It is the second largest film festival in France after Cannes in terms of audience and professional attendance. It is at the heart of many all-year-round activities and missions conducted from La Jetée by the collective team of Sauve qui peut le court métrage.

8. International Film Festival Rotterdam

IFFR grew to become one of the largest audience and industry-driven film festivals in the world, while maintaining its focus on innovative filmmaking by talented newcomers and established auteurs as well as on presenting cutting edge media art. In 2017 the Festival counted in excess of 300,000 admissions and over 2,000 film professionals attending the event. The festival’s Official Selection includes about 250 feature films and 200 short films.

9. South by Southwest

South by Southwest is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas, United States. It began in 1987, and has continued to grow in both scope and size every year.

10. Busan International Film Festival

The Busan International Film Festival, held annually in Busan, South Korea, is one of the most significant film festivals in Asia. After its establishment in 1996, BIFF has focused on introducing and supporting new Asian directors and their films. Since 2006, it also hosts the Asian Film Market.

We Are London Film Week

What is LFW?

London Film Week is an annual film festival taking place in the heart of London during the first week of December.

Get More Info

Keep Up to Date

Don't miss out on any information about London Film Week and come to the event in December!


Submit Your Film

London Film Week invites British and international filmmakers and producers to submit their projects to the Festival

Learn More

Regent Street Cinema

By Venue

London Film Week is very pleased to announce that all the Gala Screenings will take place at the prestigious Regent Street Cinema.

The Regent Street Cinema has a long and illustrious history, and a beautifully restored present. Built in 1848 and housed on London’s Regent Street, the cinema was the first in the country to show moving pictures. In 1896, the cinema showcased the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe to a paying audience, and, as the curtain fell, British cinema was born.

After a three year fundraising campaign the Regent Street Cinema was restored and re-opened in May 2015, reinstating one of the most historic cinemas in Britain to its former grandeur.

The new state-of-the-art auditorium is a unique arts venue and has become a landmark for film in the heart of London’s West End.

We Are London Film Week

What is LFW?

London Film Week is an annual film festival taking place in the heart of London during the first week of December.

Get More Info

Keep Up to Date

Don't miss out on any information about London Film Week and come to the event in December!


Submit Your Film

London Film Week invites British and international filmmakers and producers to submit their projects to the Festival

Learn More

Submit Your Film

By Film

Submit your film to London Film Week and be part of our Gala Screenings.

Rules and Regulations

To apply, please follow the instructions below. We have created a Submissions FAQ, feel free to read all about it here.

LFW19 Submissions


London Film Week accepts following submissions:

  • Short Films: narrative, documentary, animation
  • Feature Films: narrative, documentary, animation
  • Music Videos
  • Virtual Reality Projects

Got a question?

Please find the answers to the most common questions related to the submissions process.

What is London Film Week?

London Film Week (LFW) is an annual film festival inviting the general public alongside many British and international film industry visitors to discover the best film productions from all over the world.

The aim of the Festival is to raise awareness and promote the various aspects of international cinema in all its forms.

Do you require a Premiere Status for films/projects screening at LFW?

We do not require a Premiere Status for Short Films, Music Videos and Virtual Reality projects. We require a UK Premiere status for all the Feature Films selected at LFW.

When are the submission deadlines?

Early Submissions Deadline: 02 July 2019
Regular Submission Deadline: 10 September 2019
Late Submission Deadline: 09 October 2019

Notification date: All films will be notified on 31 October 2019

What are the submission fees?

Fees depend on the submission deadline, the earlier you submit the cheaper it is:
Short films: $20 > $50
Feature Films: $40 > $80
Virtual Reality Projects: $20 > $50
Music videos: $20 > $50

Are there any Awards & Prizes?

Entry into London Film Week guaranties all the films/projects to be In Competition and therefore to be nominated for following Awards:

– Short Films: Best Short, Jury Prize, Audience Award
– Feature Films: Best Film, Jury Prize, Best Director, Best Acting (features both male and female nominees), Best Screenplay, Audience Award
– Virtual Reality Projects: Best VR Project, Audience Award

There is a £1,000 cash prize for Best Short, and £1,000 for Best Feature Film. All other prizes are in-kind (which will be announced one month prior to the event).

What is the Official Selection of LFW?

London Film Week is divided in different sections:

  • Official Competition – 7 short films + 7 feature films
  • Virtual Reality Projects Showcase – the best of VR
  • Education: a Film Forum open to anyone interested in film/VR
  • Film Professional’s Meetings: Co-Productions days
  • Carte Blanche: a carte blanche to a Guest Country

Do I have to submit via FilmFreeway?

Yes, we only accept submissions via FilmFreeway.

Once you have completed your application your submission will be assigned a unique tracking number, in order to be recognized by our system. Unregistered submissions will not be viewed. If you have any trouble registering online, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you through the process.

What are the perks for filmmakers at London Film Week?

London Film Week invites film directors and leading actors to attend the presentation of their films in London. A certain number of hotel rooms are made available during the event. All selected filmmakers will have free access to the Film Forum organised during LFW. And besides the Q&A sessions to meet the audience, we’ll be hosting daily networking lunches in order for filmmakers to meet with film industry guests.

Submit Today & Start Getting Noticed.

Cannes 2018

By Party

London Film Week will officially launch at Cannes 2018!

Meet with us

Our team will be present from Thursday 10 May until Wednesday 16 May 2018.

To schedule a meeting with one of our representatives, please contact us at hello (a)

Looking forward to meeting you!

LFW Party

Join us on Saturday 12 May 2018 to officially celebrate the launch of London Film Week. This is an invite-only event to thank our patrons, partners and supporters.

Please contact hello (a) to ask for your invitation. Places are limited!





London Film Week
85 Great Portland Street
W1W 7LT London
United Kingdom

hello (a)

(c) London Film Week