‘Dance the Past into the Future’ makes its debut on digital HD!

We are thrilled to announce that the feature documentary ‘Dance the Past into the Future’ makes its debut on digital HD. ‘Dance the Past into the Future’ – a film by award-winning filmmaker Mario Mattei – is a universal story of cultural changes in North-eastern Turkey. As social and economic forces encroach upon traditional culture in Turkey's Kachkar mountain highlands, many distinctive practices have vanished or are facing extinction. Among the three generations now straddling the not-yet-forgotten past and the globalized tomorrow, some are finding hope in one tradition that could stand alone as the primary catalyst for ongoing cultural identity: communal peace and the celebration of life.

The story, though set amidst the beautiful hills of the Kachkar mountains, explores far wider and more important issues, ones that effect many regions throughout the world: the issue of losing local cultural identity in the clash with Western culture. Is there hope for local traditions and cultures to thrive despite everything?

Travel on an adventure into gorgeous, pastoral highlands. Get immersed in music and dance festivities. Discover hope amidst these dying traditions. Join elders mourning the loss of intergenerational connection. Get inspired by this generation's efforts to define their own future whilst still honoring their past.

In the avalanche of modern developments, will the mountain-based cultures of northeast Turkey suffocate?

Dance the Past into the Future’ is available now to all regions, for purchase or rent on Digital HD!

Buy or rent now on Digital HD!

Visit Dance the Past into the Future's supporters!

Learn more about Turkish culture!

See DPF trailer on TripFilms.com

Visit indie filmmaker supporter FMB

Watch the Movie Trailer for DPF

Let's keep this simple and to the point... you can NOW WATCH THE MOVIE TRAILER for Dance the Past Into the Future! 

Pretty please...

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And post it on the gazillion different social media sites you frequent. Film distributors and granting organizations are watching to see how well we can build an audience. So if you dig it, show some love...

Many thanks!


Mario Mattei

DPF accepted by the Int'l Documentary Association!

Merhaba, friends,

We want to share some exciting news. Dance the Past Into the Future has been accepted by one of the world's leading documentary associations, the IDA. See them at documentary.org

That's the right, the fine folks at the IDA in Los Angeles have accepted our documentary into their fiscal sponsorship program. This means that as we apply for grants to fund the remaining post production work and outreach budget, we will be vetted by the IDA, who receives enormous amounts of grants from about 40 organizations annually. Bottom line, we increased our chances of receiving a grant. 

We are also honored to be selected and endorsed by the IDA. They're both professional and passionate about documentary film. They do A LOT for filmmakers like us. 

Other than that... we're plugging away with the more than 1,200 pages of transcripts, taking notes and forming the narrative arc. Next will be a deeper review of the footage with more tagging and note taking---then onto some rough cuts. It's a marathon (insert Chariots of Fire theme song here). 


Mario Mattei & Crew


Forgive me, My elders: Confessions from the Director

copyright mariomattei - stayclassy header-1.jpg

Within Dance the Past Into the Future, the older generation clearly have parallel experiences. Most notably experiences of loss---of foods, festivals, and ways of life, like animal husbandry. But one loss in particular has a sting. It forces me to evaluate my own attitudes and behaviors, especially those of my youth.

Love and respect. The elders say it's almost gone. They say the two go hand in hand. "Without respect there is no love, and without love there is nothing." What about following your heart, as I hear so much about in the West. Will our hearts lead us to show great respect for someone else at cost to ourselves?

When people who have never met start saying the same thing, and when that thing is as weighty as, "love and respect are gone", I start paying attention. Our elders' extensive experience and observations enables them to act as social-doctors providing sobering diagnosis. Listen up, World, to our Turkish elders.

They say when love and respect were present, true community existed. People spent more time together--- more time discussing life instead of watching TV together. People would help each other. In the village they would share water for animals, not claim it and hoard it. "In the old days", when it was barley threshing time, for example, everyone would help one person one day and someone else on another day. When building homes, the whole neighborhood would carry wood from the forest up to the plateau highlands. 

I suppose this is similar to when I help a friend move apartments in America. It's usually a friend and not a random neighbor, though. One character said, "Nowadays, it's whatever I can accomplish on my own." That mantra sounds all too familiar. Again I find myself asking, what is progress, really? How should humans define a win for humanity, for self?

The above are clearly examples of living in community, in harmony. I want that. But what about showing respect in seemingly more trite ways, like taking off my hat indoors. I rejected that one growing up, thinking to myself, "Get over your illogical hang-ups, people! It's a hat! In other countries you cover your head to show respect!"

Love is an action, not just a feeling. If you've been in a relationship, you know this. Actions show both respect and love. Doing something out of respect also shows love. That's why they say the two go together. I understand this in the context of my marriage, but only sometimes in community. And I suspect I'm often blind to it within society at large. Why? What happened? My grandpa "got it", lived it and breathed it.

The Turkish elders explained respect like this: When dad comes home, stand up and don't sit down until he does. Straighten his jacket and shoes. Would I have wanted to do that in my teens? No. But how would I feel if my little ones grew up and did that for me? I'd feel like a king in my own tiny home. 

There's more: Don't light a cigarette while sitting next to your elders. By not crossing your legs and slouching when sitting next to elders, you show them respect. They see you sitting upright and know it's for them. 

Where are the roots of this loss of love and respect? I can point to cultural influencers like film---as far back as Rebel Without A Cause (1955), starring James Dean. Or to music of that era. Film and music usually add momentum to something that's already in existence within the culture, though. What about the 60's hippie movement? I can only see things from a distance that I didn't live through within my own culture. But I know those cultural factors influenced my parents and me. And we know American culture has global influence. How has Turkey been affected? Turkish audiences will have to explore this for themselves.  One interviewee claimed that in her youth they had no TV or internet, therefore they obeyed their elders. “Now the youth don't listen. They want to be like the cool people on TV.”

So, what now? Does anyone really want to regain the past or shape the future based on these older value systems?

Maybe the old ways were ditched for good reasons. But if we determine not to show respect unless someone deserves it, we can always find a way out. We can always accurately critique flawed human beings. So where is the line drawn? If we stop participating in showing signs of respect, at what point do we find we're “accomplishing only what we can do on our own” instead of as a community? Love and respect are the ropes that tie people together. I learn this from my own Faith, and I'm learning it from Muslim Turks 25+ years older than me.

Here's what I've learned after 4 years of living in Turkey: Showing respect honors someone; and honorable people show honor. So even if someone isn't fully deserving of honor you can show them honor because you are an honorable person. Those who receive respect shouldn't take it for granted or lord it over others. It's that kind of attitude and behavior that caused the recent generations to walk away from showing respect as it was seen "in the old days."

I'm not sure what the way forward is. These are just my reflections as I read through our documentary film's interview transcripts. I do want to say to my elders, forgive me for the sour attitude I had in the past. And to those who might show respect to me, I'm motivated to earn it and return it regardless of age, political or religious affiliation, ethnicity, or lifestyle. I can see that I don't have to like everything about someone or agree with everything they believe or represent in order to show love and respect.

The ropes of our community---love and respect---have been cut or are fraying. I hope Dance the Past Into the Future causes Turkish audiences to make conscious choices about how their society will change, instead of letting it slip away. For Americans, I don't have a sermon for us. I would just say, be honorable yourself and consider what that looks like in the way you treat strangers, elders, neighbors, friends, well... everyone!

This topic of Love & Respect is but one thread in a complex tapestry that is the northeastern Turkish culture, and that will become the Dance the Past Into the Future film. Going into the project I suspected that dialing-in to one people group's story might have global relevance, that the story's themes might stirs us all to consider what we currently have in our families and communities and to make it a point to pass on all that is good, noble, fun, and transcendent... while we still have the time. My speculations are turning out to be true.

DPF getting Press in Turkey

As mentioned in a previous post, I (Mario) was interviewed by a nation-wide newspaper about Dance the Past Into the Future and the unique approach we've taken toward Visual Peacemaking by actually living in Turkey.

Sabah article and Mario.jpg

The print and online articles went live today. The translated version is below. This has brought on an onslaught of more media attention. This Wednesday we'll interview with a TV station. Meanwhile, we continue to piece the story together as we scour through compelling transcripts and captivating visuals. 

I should note that a few facts are wrong in the article. I'm from Arizona and we filmed 40+ hours not 100s.

From Sabah News in Turkey

They Migrated from California to Trabzon

by BİLGE ESER  04.02.2013

(Translated from Turkish)
The couple Mario and Angela Mattei, of California, United States, toured many countries in search of living a different kind of life. In 2009, both decide to settle in Antalya, Turkey with their daughter Izzy, and son Emery. While 33 year old photographer Mario Mattei was publishing two photography books their 3rd child Joseph was born. Each time he visited the mountainous areas of the Black Sea, Mario began to hear the call to discover more. By going to villages and highland plateaus Mattei was able to conduct interviews and film hundreds of hours of video footage. 

Mattei said the Horon dance itself is a cultural influencer, "something that brings people together. When there is tension between villagers they will dance in different Horon circles. But later they come together to dance in the same circle. It's actually a peacemaking tradition." Mattei compiled stories from a Tulum bagpipe player and a master craftsmen in wood-home carpentry, saying, "The Serender hut this carpenter was making by-hand without using any nails could be one of the last anyone will witness."

When this documentary "Dance the Past Into the Future"---about the Horon dance, Serender huts, and life in the highlands is finished---Mattei has plans to tour the film in Turkish film festivals and festivals around the world.

Mattei has experienced 'neighborly hospitality' in his own neighborhood, saying, "we make cookies for each other and share them. This happened more in the U.S. 30 years ago, but with increasing technology, time spent in community has been reduced." 

Turkey's "place in the center of the world", Mattei perceives as an American photographer, "makes it a bridge between East and West capable of destroying the tension between the two. Turkey is a natural birthplace for Visual Peacemaking, a place of origin."

Mattei's only complaint of Turkey is that electronics and vehicles are twice as expensive. He enjoys films like Neseli Hayat (Merry Life) and the comedies of Recep Ivedik. His favorite Turkish foods are buttered beans, rice, lentil soup, ezogelin soup, and every week he can't stop returning for Alexander's dish. 

Mattei says that he feels close to the independent and lively spirits of Trabzon people, and he even supported Trabzon Spor in the soccer match against Istanbul's Galatasaray. 

I can dance in the street & yell "I love you"!

Our favorite quotes from the film's transcripts today...

"I can dance in the street if I want to. And I can shout to my girlfriend, "I love you!" and walk off. I have that kind of freedom. It's in me. Even if other people don't have it, I have it inside myself."

'I actually prefer to dance the horon at home in my own house with the kemenche music. I like to put on some music in my own home and dance. By myself."


DPF in Nation-wide News

From Kickstarter - Jan. 18, 2013 

Just some quick exciting news. I (Mario) just finished interviewing with Sabah News here in Turkey, a highly-read, nation-wide news outletThe article will be both in PRINT and ONLINE, but in Turkish only. 

The reporter found us on Kickstarter. She's fascinated by the project, had many good questions, and will be providing an endorsement as well as a positive Press Review when we finish (if she likes it, of course). This ups our game at Film Festivals and can kick up some momentum at the right time.

What stood out to me the most today from the interview is that she ended our time by thanking us for making this film the way that we are. That's very reassuring. Our goal isn't to make a film that makes us look good. Our real desire is to use filmmaking as a way of serving. 

YOU CAN STILL DONATE, tax-deductable in the US. We are currently seeking a Grant for post-production / studio costs. If interested write to us. mmattei2 (at) gmail.com

Shine Through,

Mario & Crew

Glory Days v. Grunt Work

From Kickstarter - Dec. 12, 2012

Remember when we were posting photos and stories of our adventures filming and living in the mountainous villages. Those were the glory days!!! 

But what's going on now? It's a much less glamorous time indeed. We're organizing, logging footage, syncing camera and audio, cleaning up sequences, transcribing and translating ALL spoken words. Lots of "grunt work".  

Winston Churchill once noted that leaders don't just ascend to a place of prominence when the world needs good leadership. Rather, they've been practicing and developing all along in small daily habits, so that when the call comes they're already prepared to step up. Likewise, an Olympic Gold Medalist doesn't win on competition day. They win everyday by sticking to their regimen of exercise, training, and nutrition to be the world's best.  

The point... nothing great happens without grunt work & diligence in details! So if you're in a phase of work like this, too, be encouraged. The glory days will come around again! 

This is just our way of updating you on our progress and making a big, "meaningful" excuse for not having any current photos to show you of what we're doing now. But we will post a couple production stills to satisfy the visual appetite. 

Holiday Cheers & Merry Christmas, 

Mario Mattei & Crew 

Celebrate With Us & Next Steps

From Kickstarter · Aug. 27, 2012 

We met our phase 1 funding goal of 6,480! And we did it with just 61 Backers. We are so grateful for each and every person who took the time to give. We're grateful for every donation, large and small. We really believe you gave toward a good thing. Of course, or else we wouldn't be pursuing this with all our hearts and strength. But really, it's not just the human story that's going to be good on film. 

It's also been a fantastic relational experience for us here. With 70 people interviewed---some obviously extremely short and others in depth---we feel that we've made a handful of new wonderful friends. These new friends are young and old, from cities and villages, from every walk of life and philosophical perspective. So diverse!

With a title like ours, how could you film this and not put down the camera to learn and enjoy the dance…. yes, we worked hard, but we also took some time to immerse ourselves in the experience. It only deepens the filmmakers' perception. Should we have also milked cows and goats? Maybe.

Our film crew is moving to a nearby city. This means we'll be able to do follow-up filming where needed and also re-visit some of our characters---just for fun and for becoming better friends. Editing will take months. There's over 70 hours of footage so far. Lots of transcription and translation work to do. Our guess is that Dance the Past Into the Future will be a 30 to 60 minute documentary. We are also researching Film Festivals to submit to. 

On this filming journey we have encountered a handful of providential contacts with connections to various international film festivals and local TV stations. In fact, the director of the London Turkish Film Festival is someone we're pleased to call our new friend.

In order to raise the next 10,000, or more, we'll likely need to put together a new trailer and pitch. With that we'll determine what grants to seek, we might also raise funds via our non-profit Visual Peace Media, or do another Kickstarter campaign for some of it. We have at least one opportunity to pitch a pre-sale deal with a major distributor. That would take care of it. But pre-sales are really tough to land as a first time filmmaker. We will do our best and trust our Maker with the rest.

So, Thank you, thank you, thank you. You not only have participated in this project on a practical level, but you have also fueled us with the energy of your generosity and enthusiasm. 61 "Backers" is about more than the funds. It's about shared interests, shared passion, and shared purposes.

peace, salaam, shalom,
Mario & Crew

What the locals think

Here's one opinion from a young Turkish lady in her 20's. Someone commenting on the project's Facebook Fan Page had mentioned that he'd like to hear what the locals thought about our documentary project. 

"I think the project is great because Turkey's old cultures are close to being forgotten and there are very few young people who find them important. If it goes like you say, children with be consumed with city-life and rarely find time for the way things used to be. BUT, I hope this documentary will give them a good message and be effective at what it's trying to accomplish."

I (Mario), too, wish that my grandfather had passed on more things about Italian culture & our specific Italian family than he did. He was consumed with the new life in America (& hard work). I don't blame him for pressing forward. But in hindsight, a lot more could have been passed on.