Interview with Filmmaker Elif Fatima Gorken (Nenekus Meditating With Flowers)

“Nenekus Meditating With Flowers” played to rave reviews at the February 2022 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

My intention was to make a short portrait documentary because I wanted to practice my documentary filmmaking skills. I didn’t know who to film until I went to my grandmother’s house and saw how sad she was about giving one of her plants away. Her plant ‘Yuka’ had grown so tall, she didn’t fit in her apartment anymore. My grandmother was in tears and made the new owners promise they would take good care of her. I realized my documentary had to be on my grandmother and her plants.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Believe it or not, it took me about 2 years to make this film. We shot the main interviews and b roll in a week but when I went to edit, the film wasn’t working. I realized I didn’t have enough to work with and so we had to shoot again. The second time was when I decided to insert myself in the film and added the scenes of me and my grandmother together because it became clear to me that as much as this was a portrait film about her it was also about me. I couldn’t bring myself to edit it for a really long time because of extreme self-doubt. My friends helped me let my perfectionism go and just finish it.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Heart Medicine.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

It was mainly an emotional obstacle for me. As a trauma survivor struggling with depression, I was navigating a lot of difficult emotions around self-worth and it manifested as procrastination, so the film was left unfinished for a very long time. I am grateful to say that now I know I am an amazing filmmaker and it feels very good to love myself and be my own biggest fan after years of self-abandonment.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I cried! Haha. Everyone’s comments were so detailed and sweet.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I’ve always been a storyteller. I wrote my first play about Ramadan when I was 8 years old and performed it for my 2nd-grade class. I don’t think there was a singular moment for me when I realized I want to be a filmmaker. It’s just always been a dream.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

The most in my life is probably zenon girl of the 21st century.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I would love to meet other filmmakers.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It’s been great.

10. What is your favorite meal?

It’s not a meal but my favorite thing to consume is Turkish tea.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

My new narrative short film is doing its festival run right now. I have a second documentary in pre-production. And I’ve written two features and two pilots in the past two years so if there are any funders out there, you should fund my films!


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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