As part of “We Look At Animals Because,” Critical Distance and South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC) presents a film screening by filmmaker Andrea Luka Zimmerman. Structured around readings by renowned critic and essayist John Berger, “Taskafa” (2013, 66 mins) offers a brilliantly incisive meditation on urban space and city life by investigating the complex history of Istanbul’s street dogs. Despite several major attempts by Istanbul’s rulers, politicians and planners over the last 400 years to erase them, the city’s street dogs have persisted thanks to an enduring alliance with civilian communities that recognize and defend their right to co-exist.
“Taskafa” gathers the voices of diverse Istanbul residents, shopkeepers, and street based workers, all of whom display a striking commitment to the well-being and future of the city’s canine population. Interwoven to this narrative are readings by Berger from his novel “King,” a story of hope, dreams, love and resistance, told from the perspective of a dog belonging to a community facing disappearance, even erasure.
Andrea Luka Zimmerman is an artist, cultural activist and filmmaker. She is the first director to be shortlisted for both the Grierson and Jarman Awards, and in 2017 she received the Artangel Open Award for her feature drama Cycle, produced in collaboration with Adrian Jackson. Currently Zimmerman teaches at Central St. Martins in London, where she also studied for her PhD.