Private Project

Forever Thirty-Three

The documentary is about the first original encyclopedia written and completed in Islamic Geography. The story follows two fictional characters: Niyaz and Ekmel. Niyaz is a young academic who graduated from the faculty of theology, and Ekmel is a teacher in his sixties at a university. The two characters’ paths cross in the Encyclopedia of Islam by the Turkiye Diyanet Foundation. The remarkable story of one of the most significant cultural movements in the Republic of Turkiye’s history has been brought to life with a collective memory spanning 33 years...

  • Murat Pay
  • Selman Kılıçaslan
  • Halil Kardaş
  • Hüseyin Soysalan
    Key Cast
  • Birhan Tut
    Key Cast
    "Niyaz Fidan"
  • Kübra Tüzgün
    Key Cast
    "Sacide Fidan"
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Hep Otuz Üç Yaşında
  • Completion Date:
    December 1, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    230,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    7K Ultra HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Murat Pay

He graduated from Radio, Television & Cinema Department of Marmara University in 2003 and completed his MA degree at Marmara University on ‘Karagöz Shadow Plays and Cinema’ in 2012. He conducted his first theoratical and practical works on cinema at Science&Arts Foundation in Istanbul from 2005 onward. He continued his film career at Kaplan Film with Semih Kaplanoğlu (2012-2014) and at Rasathane Film (2015-2019). Currently, he continues his work in Asabi Film and Filmcode Production.

(Docu-Drama) Director: Murat Pay, 2022, 109’

(Feauture Film) Director: Murat Pay, 2019, 94’
• 3th Bosphorus Film Festival, Bosphorus Film Lab-TRT Co-production Award
• 25th Sarajevo Film Festival, August 17, 2019 -Premiere
• 7th Bosphorus Film Festival Best Cinematography Award: Andreas Sinanos, 2019
• 9th Malatya International Film Festival, 2019, Jury Special Award
• 7th Kayseri FF, Best Cinematography: Andreas Sinanos (S.Ünlütürk – with Kovan)
• Turkey Innovation Awards, 2019 "Best Art Film"

(Docu-drama) Dir: Murat Pay, 2017, 64’
• 7th International Malatya Film Festival, Panorama

(Docu-drama) Director: Murat Pay, 2014, 84’
• 26th FID Marseille Film Festival, Competition
• 51st Antalya Film Festival, Premiere

(Short film) Director: Murat Pay, 2008, 15’10".
• 10th Marmara Communication Short Film Festival, Best Screenplay
• 2nd Crystal Clapper Short Film Festival, Best Film

(Documentary) Director: Murat Pay, 2007, 28’8".
• 8th Izmir International Short Film Festival, Best Documentary
• 10th Marmara Communication Short Film Festival, Special Jury Award

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

My first acquaintance with the DIA Encyclopedia of Islam coincided with my graduate years. It was a reliable and reference source, and I had read many articles about school subjects here. Years later, when the work was completed and a movie was on the agenda, my second acquaintance with the encyclopedia began. A great story spanning 33 years and completed would be transferred to the world of images. Many questions came to my mind: What part of the story could be told? What aspects of the story could be highlighted? How could the hotspots of the story have been identified? It was necessary to embark on another long-term journey: to make oral history with the living witnesses of the Encyclopedia of Islam. Thereupon, we conducted oral history interviews with more than 90 people, young and old, who contributed to the Encyclopedia of Islam. Thus, we have created a critical repository that can serve as a source for the script.
During the oral history shootings, it snowed in an unprecedented amount in Istanbul for years. We took this opportunity and made an impromptu shoot in the library, where most of the encyclopedia work takes place. Who knew that later this shot would determine the finale of the movie. I think that shooting the finale without writing the script is a part of the film's own special world.
In constructing the narrative of the film, we tried to pay attention to a few intellectual issues. The first is not to forget that the encyclopedia is the product of a collective work, and the other is not to ignore that the documentary ultimately builds a fictional world. Based on this, we chose the location of the film and its items from the world of the encyclopedia as much as possible. While following the traces and smells of the real world on the one hand, we also established a fictional structure with reference to collective work. The ambiguity of the film's boundaries between documentary and fiction would pave the way for it to capture a genuine emotion. As a matter of fact, when the filming of the film was over, we understood that we were not wrong in this thought.
I should also briefly mention the staging method we developed, inspired by the traditional art middle play, which I think makes an important contribution to the language of the film. The essence of our analysis was to disseminate different times and spaces by placing the same characters within a single space. Thus, the production process of the encyclopedia and its intellectual phase were intertwined. We have emphasized the originality of the encyclopedia by expanding time and space and building a world unique to documentary.
It is not easy to fit a great effort and a success story spanning 33 years into a movie. Just a small contribution to a great story...
Murat PAY