We caught up with Pinar Ögün to find out more about being a Patron for LABF…
What made you consider being a patron for LABF?
I met Tariq through Hannah Khalil. I was one of the performers in her play about Palestine entitled “Scenes From 68 Years” at the Arcola Theatre. Tariq came to see the show and heard about my story through lovely Hannah.
After my training as an actress at LAMDA, I went back to my country Turkey in 2009, and continued working there as an actress. In 2011, I portrayed the real life story of a well-known activist Turkish doctor, Türkan Sayan on TV for 26 episodes and that made me a recognised actress in my country.
After this TV show, together with my husband, we decided to produce and work together on “Mi Minor”, a play written by Meltem Arikan. He directed and played the lead and I played the female lead in it. It was well received but not ended in a way that one could ever expect.
We were accused of rehearsing Istanbul Gezi Park Protests, the biggest environmental protest of the Turkish history in June 2013. Our lives turned upside down after the accusations. We decided to leave the country for our own safety and since then we have been living in the UK.
I guess this short summary of my absurd story was parallel with what Tariq was trying to build with his festival Let’s All Be Free.
If you are not restricted in any way, or witness someone experiencing restriction you wouldn’t even think about what being free would mean to you. So it is actually a responsibility to think what it is in order to realise what is going on not just around you but also globally.
Once you realise that there are so many layers of obscure limitations around the world you begin to understand that it needs to be challenged and questioned all the time. That’s why platforms around this very issue have vital importance.
I feel privileged to be a patron of Let’s All Be Free, which I believe has the potential to bring people together around the thought of “being free” as a concept to be further discussed.
How do your values correspond with the message of the Festival?
I believe being free is a state of mind. Expressing one’s personal point of view and boundaries around issues, always have the potential to expand to a universal level and bring awareness that could connect people globally.
Without freedom of thought and expression we can not question what it means to be free or what being free means.
So in my opinion, the message of the festival integrates perfectly with the values of people in the creative industry including myself because self-censoring is a major issue.
And I believe LABF is holding the curtain up for those who challenge the sector as well as the ongoing system.
The sector has been heading towards a risk-free creativity in order to meet the expectations of the industry. Approval, which is simply ticking the boxes, is becoming the major concern for creative people. It shouldn’t be this way. We can break the chain and challenge these fears.
What compelled you to do the kind of work you do?
Besides working as a professional actress, I am also the founder of Be Aware Productions. We aim to produce works with an international dimension and appeal that explore, challenge and expand the limits of the discipline in which they are produced.
My focus as a creative is mostly about how women either knowingly or unknowingly choose to act in certain ways in order to fit into the society. The first production of Be Aware, my first short film “Exhibit” was around this very issue. Now I am working on a feature film that focuses on similar concepts and we are in the process of pre-production.
We are also producing a live performance entitled “Enough is Enough” to tour around Wales. The show circulates around the issues of violence against women in the form of a gig.
I very much enjoy being in the process of generating an idea into a production. And I guess this is what compels me to do the kind of work I do.
If you had to choose one thing that made you feel free, what would that be?
Voicing what doesn’t make me feel free is what makes me feel free.
If you could send one message to the whole world, what would that message be?
Never underestimate the power of your own voice.
What does being free mean to you?
Being free is a personal responsibility.