Locarno: ‘Dead Horse Nebula’s’ Tarik Aktas on Memory, Creativity, and Animals

LOCARNO, Switzerland –– Certain crepuscular, panoramic compositions in the opening sequence of Tarik Aktas’ feature debut, “Dead Horse Nebula,” may put arthouse enthusiasts in mind of the work of his decorated countryman, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, particularly the latter’s neo-noir opus, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” (2011). Aktas’s film, however, soon opts for a divergent path. Born in Germany but based in Istanbul, the director was trained in photography and video and made short films, experimental works, and multimedia exhibitions before making his first feature, playing in the festival’s Filmmakers of the Present program.

The film begins with a small boy inspecting the cadaver of a dead horse in a field. From there, it follows the same character as an adult through a series of scenes centered on encounters between humans and the natural world. As the film progresses in its elliptical journey, Aktas develops a philosophical rumination on the unity and transience of life.

Aktas spoke to Variety about memory, animals, and the particulars of his creative process.

How did you arrive at the image of the dead horse? How did this lead to the rest of the narrative?

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