Cenk İzgören was born in 1980. At the age of 12, he started to work as a child actor in State Theaters. In the following years, he entered the Department of Acting, Department of Theater at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Süleyman Demirel University to receive academic education. He completed his undergraduate education by doing a double major in acting and dramatic writing. He completed his master’s degree in the field of cinema. He has worked as an actor, co-director, and executive producer in various television and cinema films. He directed promotional and commercial films. Voluntarily, he worked with psychologists in the field of psychodrama in social responsibility projects aiming to rehabilitate marginalized and damaged individuals of society and took part in art and rehabilitation studies. In these studies, he worked with homosexual individuals who were subjected to violence, transgender individuals who had to work in the sex industry, women who were subjected to husband violence and veterans and civilians who were victims of war.
All my life I’ve always wondered about extraordinary people. I’ve wondered what makes them different, their boundaries and how flexible or fragile these boundaries are! I’ve watched with great interest and amazement how the individual could helplessly accept step by step, how they could turn into the enemy they struggled with, how people who could not do anything for themselves could sacrifice themselves for another, and how the system dragged individuals from one battlefield to another by using various concepts. The basis of “Cage” is based on these impressions.
My path crossed with different people in the geography I live in. Even though they deny it, I have known people who feel incomplete under any circumstance, who cannot make it alone, who can only survive when they can complete themselves with others. Veysi, who plays minor roles in TV series and movies but has great ideals and is a dour dwarf, and Burak, a former MMA fighter who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after becoming a veteran, are such characters. That’s why, although they have opposite personalities, they have never given up on each other since childhood in the orphanages where they grew up together.
In addition to the fact that Veysi and Burak grew up in an orphanage reflects the representation of “desolation”, I also identified it as the reason why Burak chose the path of becoming a fighter, which secretly makes the audience think so as well. Mental and physical violence in childhood creates a defense mechanism. This is the reason why Burak turned to MMA cage fighting. To children who do not have a family in orphanages, the state is always shown as a strong man, a mighty and tough father, and children who grow up in orphanages in my country feel indebted to their “fathers” for a lifetime. The instilled feelings of nationalism and machismo increase over the years, and when the time comes, that debt is paid off. Military service in Turkey is a compulsory civic duty. The reason why Burak voluntarily went to a warzone were intense while he was in the military is the desire to pay the debt I mentioned.
When he returned home after the war, Burak had turned into a completely different person. There is a scar that takes up the left side of his face, and there are fragments in his soul that are almost impossible to repair. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, unable to communicate with himself or the outside world. Society does not give him the value he deserves financially and morally. In frustration, he removes everything about violence in his life, quits his fighting career, and starts breeding cats at home to earn money. The cat metaphor symbolizes the instinct for life, the height of the pain threshold, and endurance. Cats are bought and sold in cages, just like Burak’s fighting, but this time it is Burak who sells them because the system has the ability to transform its victim into itself. Like many things, Burak also neglects his cats. When Burak comes home one day, he sees that all of his cats, except one, died as a result of an infection. The survival of only one cat is an indication of singularity, desolation, abandonment, and loneliness. After that, Burak’s number comes up. Burak and Veysi, who cannot pay their rent, become homeless and take refuge in the gym of Burak’s old coach as a last resort. Coach insists on getting him back in the fights, but Burak refuses. Burak has a relationship with his girlfriend Ahenk which doesn’t work. Ahenk complains about Burak’s irresponsibility and neglect, and Burak is against Ahenk’s choreography and dancing due to his feudal and macho thoughts. Ahenk finds out that Burak is in a jam and sends him money. Burak feels humiliated and accepts the exhibition fight which indirectly causes the death of his opponent. The male-dominated structure dragged Burak to a new battlefield once again and placed heavy burdens on his shoulders. Burak finds out that the opponent, whose death he caused, has an orphaned daughter named Defne. This time, he decides to push his luck in category A cage fights to get the money to offer her a good future, feels compelled to listen to his conscience and redeem himself, hoping that the deep wounds inflicted on his soul will heal with the responsibility of an orphaned girl. All the things that Burak believes in have been turned upside down and his own fists are constantly being swung at him.
The purpose that motivated me to make this film was to question the problems of a very general and realistic social structure through symbolism by placing these concepts in the story and characters. In the film, I tried to question the concepts of violence, nationalism, state, society, war, poverty, conscience and family in a fuzzy Istanbul atmosphere by establishing a flow over the imprisonment of forgotten, lonely, orphaned characters.
- Year Film Title Description
- March 11, 2022 Cage : Between Two Battles Cage is the story of the transformation of a nationalist and macho man, defeated by the system, trying to heal the traumas of the war in his soul with other wounds, in the graveyard of the orphans, against the backdrop of a misty, cold and poor Istanbul. Burak, who grew up in orphanages, is a former MMA cage fighter who lost his squad in the region where he voluntarily went during his compulsory military service and became a veteran by being injured on his face. Returning is not easy for him as he experiences post-traumatic stress disorder. He is thrown into loneliness and cannot establish a healthy relationship with himself or the outside world. Society does not show him the respect he thinks he deserves. Burak, who cannot hold on to life, withdraws himself by avoiding everything about war, violence and struggle, leaving his cage-fighting career completely and moving away from that environment. He is experiencing economic difficulties and tries to continue his life by trying to sell the cats he breeds in cages. Burak lives in a hovel in a poor neighborhood with his friend Veysi from the orphanage. Veysi is a grumpy dwarf who plays small roles in series and movies but has great ideals. Burak's lover Ahenk is a young woman who is a dancer and choreographer. She has a long and troubled relationship with Burak. Ahenk complains of the disorder and irresponsibility of Burak. Burak does not want Ahenk to dance. One day, all breed cats of Burak, except one, die as a result of an infection. They cannot pay their accrued rent debts and become homeless with Veysi. As a last resort, they take refuge in the fight club of Cemal, Burak's former coach. Cemal tries to persuade Burak, who does not want to participate in cage fights, to participate in an exhibition fight, but he does not accept this fight despite the difficult conditions he is in, but Burak feels humiliated when Ahenk sends him money to help him and accepts the fight. The system pushed Burak to the battlefields again. Although this fight is a simple exhibition match, it goes very harshly. During the fight, his opponent Ertan dies from a heart attack. Burak, who thinks he caused Ertan's death and feels a great deal of remorse, finds out that Ertan has a 13-year-old daughter named Defne, who is now an orphan. In order to become a foster family for the girl, Burak and Ahenk get married, legal procedures are overcome, and they become a foster family for Defne. Although Burak is normally a Category B fighter, he decides to participate in category an extremely dangerous cage fights to offer a good future to Defne, who does not know the truth about her Father's death. Burak, who finds his purpose, starts to respect Ahenk's purpose and effort in her dancing career. He has difficulties convincing the fight organizer to participate in fights. Burak's path, who had no choice but to look for what the war destroyed on the battlefields, will be full of disappointments again. People who have to make money off their bodies. A dancer who is a woman's rights advocate, a little dwarf who's an extra, but never gives up on his big dreams, an orphaned girl who feels the truth, but has no choice but to run away from it, and in the midst of it all, a broken ex-fighter who has no choice but to make way for the dead ends where the system is pushing him.
- Year Film Title Award(s)