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by Emanuel Spurny

grade: 7

In The Public Gap, the mise-en-scène adopted by the director seems to us particularly appropriate to a totally disillusioned and disenchanted vision of the situation, where, despite the undoubted fascination one may experience with the TAT Centre SIsli, there seems to be no optimism about the future.

The giants of Istanbul

There is a particular reality, in the heart of Istanbul, which, for about twenty years now – that is, since its creation – seems to us almost like a phantom reality. This is, then, the reality concerning the TAT Centre Sisli, a complex of skyscrapers whose construction began in 1996 and was completed in 2000, with a total area of 9,000 square metres and more than another 80,000 square metres of floor space that could be rented out, in order to offer the most diverse services to citizens. And so, director Emanuel Spurny, in his The Public Gap – made in 2020 and included, following the cancellation of the Diagonale 2020, within the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished – took a close look at this singular situation, interviewing in particular two people who live in close contact with these buildings.

The Public Gap thus aims first and foremost to get to the heart of the matter. And to this end, the director has opted for a mise-en-scène as essential as possible, which concentrates exclusively on the aforementioned buildings, thanks to shots made strictly with a fixed camera – complete with off-screen voices belonging to the two interviewees – and a total absence of musical score.

Immediately striking in The Public Gap are the images of the buildings , which have never yet been rented or properly exploited due to problems concerning management and the division of inheritance between the descendants of their builder. The imposing skyscrapers contrast strongly with the rest of the neighbourhood, the small nearby park and all the much lower buildings. Yet, despite everything, their appearance fascinates anyone who turns their gaze towards them. Especially when approaching sunset and as daylight comes. As if they were guardians ensuring that all is quiet in the city and that life runs normally.

Despite, however, the undoubted fascination and all the imagery that such a reality can give rise to, director Emanuel Spurny’s main focus is on the enormous waste of resources and potential that results from the non-use of the large spaces available. And until the builder’s heirs decide how to deal with this, the situation looks set to remain the same for many, many years to come. Not even the state can decide on the fate of these spaces, since they are, in any case, private property. And so, considering this, the mise-en-scene adopted by the director seems even more appropriate. All in all, a totally disillusioned and disenchanted vision of the situation, where, despite the undoubted fascination one may experience with these buildings, there seems to be no optimism about the future. Is this the fault, perhaps, of an overly closed and conservative mentality? Maybe. Who knows if, in another twenty years or so, things will somehow change.

Original title: The Public Gap
Directed by: Emanuel Spurny
Country/year: Austria, Turkey / 2020
Running time: 8’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Emanuel Spurny
Cinematography: Emanuel Spurny
Produced by: Emanuel Spurny

Info: The Public Gap on Vimeo