Dialogue through videos of countries: Watchtower of Turkey

Author: Murat Akbıyık, President of YOUTHART

watchtower_fcpx_6Directed and edited by Leonardo Dalessandri, the magnificent video titled “Watchtower of Turkey” has gained a lot of attention on social media as well as mass media since it was first published in November 2014. It has been watched about 2,6 million times on Vimeo and about half a million times on Youtube. Adding other platforms that the video is shared, a total of 5 million wouldn’t be an unrealistic calculation. Apart from that, the video has been on the news hundreds of times. On Google, there are already about 20.000 results when you search about the video with its title. In a nutshell, the statistics of the video are also as outstanding as the video itself. But, what do all these numbers tell us?

Taking the fact that dozens of videos about Turkey officially produced by the government spending huge amounts of money and being watched maximum about 1 million times for years, the success of “Watchtower of Turkey” by Leonardo Dalessandri is indisputable. So, we can make some concrete conclusions about what people look for in promotional country videos, what they should include, how they should be shot, how the music should be integrated into the views and motions, etc. In Turkey, there have always been negative feedbacks about the overuse of unrealistic scenes in videos such as horses jumping over the Bosphorus Bridge, beautiful ladies flying on carpets and whirling dervishes dancing at the top of chimneys in Cappadocia. Of course such scenes can add some historical elements, but they also keeps the videos away from today’s culture, how the society see themselves and how actually they want to show themselves to the rest of the world. Especially to be able to use such country videos to promote dialogue among cultures, there is a lot to learn from “Watchtower of Turkey”.

Here is how the director of “Watchtower of Turkey”, Leonardo Dalessandri comments on his own video:

Leonardo Dalessandri “Over than 3500 km traveled in 20 days, capturing landscapes from the bluish tones of Pamukkale to the warm ones of Cappadocia, the all passing by a great variation of colors, lights and weathers through six other cities. I’ve crossed Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Ephesus, Istanbul, Konya; and tasted baklava, kunefe, doner, the Turkish tea; and got the chance to meet the soul of Turkey, its people.. and got their smiles and their hospitality. This is Turkey lived by me from north to south, and I hope you enjoy it :)”

It’s simple, and gives the most descriptive adjectives about the Turkish society: diversity in tastes but unity in smiles and hospitality. The dialogue is more direct and effective when communication is simple and enriched with living elements of cultures. It’s not solving the conflicts among societies if promotional materials don’t show both the positive and negative sides of the cultures. Leonardo Dalessandri does this successfully in his video through including both smiling and sad, young and old, beautiful and ugly, pure and dirty faces of people and having scenes from everyday life makes the video real-like. Dialogue is only possible when it is real.

The music, “Experience” by Ludovico Einaudi, also catches the viewers and adds much on the quality of the video. Most probably, most viewers have heard this music the first time on this video. Here is another conclusion that the promotional videos of countries don’t necessarily have to feature famous models or musicians. And, the voice off by Meryem Aboulouafa, sounds like a call from Turkish society to the rest of the world:

Do you hear me?

This is the voice of an imperial past

The sound of horses and strong walk of men

Do you feel me?

This is your cultural thrill

The smell of a powerful land

Can you see me?

Below, you can see some reflections of this amazing video on mass media in Turkey and at international blogs as well as an interview with the director of “Watchtower of Turkey”, Leonardo Dalessandri explaining how he produced the video.



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About The Author
- Youth Art Research and Training Association, based in Istanbul, is the Turkish partner of the project.