THE MESOPOTAMIAN


TYPE
: Narrative Feature
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Development

LOGLINE

An urban love story set in the EMS world of New York from the eyes of Ela, a mysterious and lonely Middle Eastern immigrant, who recently became an EMT.

SYNOPSIS

Ela, is a lonely Middle Eastern immigrant who becomes a 911 EMT to feed her desire for intimacy. As she navigates an otherwise unseen New York City that is both compassionate and vulnerable, she builds a strong bond with her ambulance partner, Marco, and experiences a magical yet familiar intimacy with Dinlas, an upper-class mysterious Latino man, who drew her attention online. This is a post-modern love story between ‘patients’ and ‘partners,’ with many universes of intimacy.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

Two years ago, I’ve almost lost my dad. I spent weeks at a hospital in Istanbul hoping that he survived - he made it but now he needs to carry his portable oxygen tank anywhere he goes. This experience made me spend some time resolving my relationship with him. During this time I also began seeing the hospital community beyond its medical context. The competition between the nurses, my mother’s crush on our surgeon, the delicious desserts of the hospital, etc. I had ro tell this medical world somehow. However, although I knew I had enough familiarty to bring its spirit into the screen, I still had to experience this world from the medical professionals’ perspective to bring in the authenticity. That’s why, after my father’s recovery, I came back to New York and became an EMT - the most elementary job in the EMS world but also the craziest in terms of hardships one have to embrace daily with his/her patients and perhaps, consequently become crazy himself/herself. EMTs are one of the most diverse communities of New York, with almost a half million registered members. But it remains an invisible one that doesn’t receive the attention other emergency workers get. When I went on a 911 rotation, I saw a side of New York that wasn’t taught to me before. There was profound intimacy in visiting and interacting with patients inside their homes, but I also witnessed, with many of these people, a deep loneliness. They needed care, and EMTs were the closest thing to a friend for them. As an immigrant from Turkey, I also found out that an EMT job is a very immigrant-friendly profession due to its minimal requirements. In order to get an EMT certificate you only need to have a high school diploma and pass the exam after a 3 month-long training. So the EMS world seemed to be the best place for our Middle Eastern character , Ela, to be part of. I was also incredibly drawn into the idea of interpreting New York, which can be sometimes an emotional battlefield through the eyes of two first responders who had previous experiences in real battlefields. The film never takes us back to war in the Middle East with a flashback but it always keeps us in the present and lets us experience the New York-esque moments of love, lust, passion, loneliness, sorrow and heartbreaks - all of which I recently lived through after falling for a 1st generation conservative Dominican-American who bizarrely reminded me of my father and felt home despite his vices. In other words, ‘The Mesopotamian,’ doesn’t try to unveil ‘the miseries’ of an Iraqi immigrant or PTSD of a US Veteran. On the contrary, it makes them our sophisticated guides as we re-explore a well-known Western metropolitan city together with its traumas and joys through their ‘Mesopotamian’ eyes.

KEY CREW

Esra Saydam - Writer/Director

Bridging the oceanic divide between her homeland Turkey and the United States, Esra is a filmmaker with a master’s de-
gree in Columbia University Graduate Film Program. She has production companies based in Istanbul and in New York.
Their titles respectively are Karlakum Film and Sand & Snow Films. Her first feature film, ACROSS THE SEA (2014), won multiple awards at Adana FF as well at other international festivals like Slamdance and Milano Int. The film also screened at festivals, Florida, Raindance, Sarasota, Istanbul and Warsaw. Esra’s next projects in development have been recognized and invited by the renown programs like EAVE’s Ties That Bind, !f Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab, Hamptons Screenwriters Lab, Meetings on the Bridge, IFP Film Week, and Cine Qua Non Lab. Esra also attended Stowe Story Lab as a SAGIndie Fellow and participated in Berlinale Talent Program as a U.S. based writer. As part of her screenwriting research for her project, THE MESOPOTAMIAN, she completed her EMT training and received her New York State EMT Certificate. Saydam also develops an international TV comedy show taking place in New York. Esra is the recipient of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Fellowship and fluent in four languages.

Alvaro R. Valente - Producer

Alvaro R. Valente is an Italian-Belgian producer based in the US. He has worked as a producer in theater, television and film between the U.S. and Europe for the past twelve years. His producing work has been showcased and awarded in more than 350 festivals worldwide. In addition to producing critically acclaimed and award-winning short films, his feature credits include THE FORTUNE THEORY (2013), CHILD EATER (2015), the award-winning Turkish-U.S.film ACROSS THE SEA (2014) and Jordana Spiro’s NIGHT COMES ON (2018), winner of the NEXT Innovator Award at Sundance 2018 and Jury Prize at Deauville 2018. Alvaro earned an MFA in film producing from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in economics and entertainment management from Universita Cattolica in Milan. He was selected to participate in the 2012 Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris for Young European Producers, and the 2013 Berlinale Talents. He’s also received the Everest Entertainment Award for Young Producers, the Entertainment Partners Best Producer Award, and was a finalist for the Saatchi & Saatchi Best Producer Award. Alvaro is currently in post-production on two features: David Gutnik’s RUSSIAN AMERICAN starring FKA Twigs and Rodrigo Bellott’s Bolivian-American film TU ME MANQUES starring Oscar Martinez and Rossy De Palma.

 

Gerry Kim - Producer

Gerry Kim’s first film was THE HOUSE OF SUH, which premiered at the 2010 Hot Docs Film Festival and went on to win several awards on the festival circuit. SUH was sold to MSNBC in 2010 and had its broadcast premiere in July of 2011. Following its release, SUH won the Masters Series Award for Non-Fiction at the 2012 CINE Awards. He went on to produce director Jennifer Kroot’s TO BE TAKEI, a documentary portrait of actor and activist George Takei (2014 Sundance Film Festival premiere, released theatrically by Starz Digital); directors Esra Saydam and Nisan Dag’s ACROSS THE SEA (winner of the Audience Award at Slamdance); and executive produced director Luigi Campi’s coming-of-age thriller, MY FIRST KISS AND THE PEOPLE INVOLVED (premiered at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival, Winner of Audience Award at New Orleans Film Festival). An alum of Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program, Gerry was awarded the 2010 Arthur Krim Memorial Award for Best Producer, and in 2014, was selected as a Creative Producing Fellow of the Sundance Institute. He is currently in post-production of his latest feature film, I’M NO LONGER HERE, written/ directed by Fernando Firas and supported by the Sundance Film Institute.

 

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