The documentary '15 YIL' portrays the illegal arrest of the activist, writer and journalist Turgay Ulu. The then 23-year-old is accused of having participated in the armed liberation of a political prisoner. He spends 15 years in custody in Turkey without a court order. But Turgay, a political activist and convinced Marxist, also takes part in resistance practices in prison, especially against the violent introduction of the solitary confinement. 15 'YIL' is a film full of courage, love and solidarity.

  • Emine Demir
  • Emine Demir
  • Emine Demir
  • Turgay Ulu
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    15 YIL
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    52 minutes 35 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 1, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    14,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Germany, Turkey
  • Language:
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  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Emine Demir

Born as one of eight children to parents from Turkey who came to Germany in 1972 I grew up in a racist and discriminatory school system and society. During my first studies in Social Work and Peace and Conflict Studies I began with my first documentary and continued since then. Today I’m a passionate filmmaker who realised her mid- length film in between her paid jobs and very little budget. Currently I am working on a video for an outstanding theatre play with and by Woman* of Color.

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Director Statement

15 YIL which means 15 Years in English, was a risk-taking and exciting project in many ways. The protagonist of the film, Turgay, who was accused of having participated in an armed liberation of a political prisoner, spent 15 years in custody in Turkey without a court order and without any evidences. But Turgay, a convinced Marxist, takes part in resistance practices such as hunger strikes and building blockades, especially in order to stop the violent introduction of the solitary confinement in 2000 which cost many people’s life. His ideology in the fight for justice keeps him mentally healthy. Though he is telling his story quite rationally, his journals disclose how prison affected him emotionally. 15 YIL began in 2014 but was interrupted for financial and political reasons. His story which is exemplary for thousands of political prisoners, made me wanna tell it to the world. In order to tell his story, I went to Turkey to meet with his family and his lawyer. There have been a number of risks involved with making 15 YIL as the political situation in Turkey is very suppressive regarding freedom of media. When we were shooting the prison from outside, a very young soldier approached us and asked us politely but determined to leave ‘otherwise they would have to eliminate us’. As we were leaving in a hurry we left the cameras on so that some of the shots turned out shaky. With very limited resources and learning editing from scratch, it was a very challenging but exciting time to make this movie. 15 YIL is an homage to all political prisoners in the world.